Why We Should Bin The Fracking Infrastructure Bill

BirthDefectsBeki Adam is a farm owner who runs a small business of eco-tourism on South Downs. She spent much of her life in Balcombe and was concerned about fracking when drilling began last year. Beki tells Talk Fracking why the Government should #BinTheBill.

The Infrastructure Bill, currently being rushed through the House of Commons (with final voting by all MPs early next year) is arguably the most irresponsible piece of legislation ever to be laid before a British Parliament – and it’s already made it through the House of Lords. You may not be aware of the crazy idea in Part 5: to make “Maximising Economic Recovery” of UK oil and gas, a legal obligation. This is in clear opposition to the internationally recognised need to slow down (and soon stop) the extraction of fossil fuels.

The Government cites the Wood Report [1], but that was about offshore oil and gas; it didn’t say frack the UK, and take away landowners’ rights to stop it. The Government said the changes to our trespass laws would be “entirely dependent” [2] on public response. It wasn’t true. There was a public consultation and 99% of those who responded objected [3]. And yet still they push ahead. No democracy here.

Then after the public consultation came an amendment: “leave or keep any substance” deep down in our own land [4].

Anybody who cares about climate change knows we must honour the climate change commitments we have made. Pretending that maxing out on fracking is ‘on the way’ to renewable energy is like an alcoholic saying “on my way to sobriety I’m going to the pub”. Fracking isn’t a bridge, it’s a gangplank. Part 5 should read “Maximsing recovery of renewable energy”.

That the Infrastructure Bill plans to make ‘maximising economic recovery’ the ‘principle objective’ and would make offshore and onshore extraction of oil and gas a legal requirement is almost incomprehensible. George Monbiot says it equates to “a legal duty to maximise greenhouse gases” [5]. One MP mentioned the word “insane”. Jonathan Porrit points out “The Infrastructure Bill will basically open up the entire country to fracking companies” [6]. To make law ‘maximising recovery’ of oil and gas now, at this critical point in the 21st century; shows utter contempt, not only for UK landowners and caring citizens, but also because of the climate change implications – it shows the same contempt for all other members of the planet and all future generations.

With enough of us working together, we can stop it. Some MPs have already said they can’t support the Bill. We hope all students, climate change and democracy activists, and concerned members of the public will join us on our campaign to Bin the Bill.

If you still aren’t sure of the risks of fracking, even the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisor’s report last month warned that it can be compared to asbestos, CFCs, lead in petrol, some pesticides, etc. [7] And the finances are a sham too – USA shale debts (it requires hundreds of thousands of expensive wells to be drilled) are now in excess of $200bn, and rising [8]. As is air pollution and leakage from those wells.

Help us stop this happening in the UK. Caroline Lucas MP and Norman Baker MP have tabled amendments to delete clause 36 which introduces the new legal duty to maximise the economic recovery of UK oil and gas. The tabled amendments would also delete clauses 38 to 43 which propose changes to the trespass law which would then allow fracking companies to drill beneath our homes and land without our permission, and to leave any substance or infrastructure in the land.

Please urgently write to your MP asking them to support these amendments to the bill. You can find your MP’s contact details here.

Beki Adam

1. http://www.woodreview.co.uk/
2. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/317823/Queens_Speech_lobby_pack_FINAL.pdf
3. https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/underground-drilling-access
4. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2014-2015/0002/amend/su002-VI-c.htm
5. http://www.monbiot.com/2014/06/26/a-legal-duty-to-maximise-greenhouse-gases/
6. http://www.jonathonporritt.com/blog/infrastructure-bill
7. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/28/fracking-risk-compared-to-thalidomide-and-asbestos-in-walport-report
8. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9b20239e-847c-11e4-ba4f-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3MLGEg0KQ