by Rosie Rechter, Chair, East Kent Against Fracking
Anyone who knows anything about the dangers of fracking will be celebrating that not a single licence in the whole of East Kent was included in the recently announced 14th Licensing round. Licences that previously threatened Woodnesborough, Shepherdswell, Guston and Tilmanstone have all been relinquished so our concerns for water, public health, our environment and our quality of life have been put to rest. Local businesses involved in tourism and food production can all heave a sigh of relief – as can householders worried about the falling value of their houses and the rising cost of insurance – the true costs of fracking which were hidden from the public within the redactions of the DEFRA report.(hyperlink to Talk Fracking section here?)
We may well speculate on why Kent has been spared. Falling gas and oil prices have probably played a part but we remain convinced that the successful campaign waged by a EKAF signalled to fracking companies that we are an undesirable location! Any company looking our way would surely realise the force of our formidable, well-connected and well-informed opposition.
For this we all owe very many thanks to a whole host of people who helped us to raise awareness of what it would mean for the beautiful Garden of England to be transformed into an industrialised zone with some 2,000 well heads. We therefore thank all the local newspapers and TV and radio stations that covered news of our campaign; those in local government and also the MPs who listened to our arguments; CPREKent, who hosted a key meeting in Shepherdswell, and the Environment Agency whose critical report on applications from Coastal Oil & Gas Ltd led to those applications being withdrawn. Thanks also to CPRE Kent’s hydrogeologist, Graham Warren, for his tireless research and to Canterbury Christ Church University for staging an informative fracking debate last November. But, most of all, a huge thank you to all those individuals who trudged the streets of our towns and villages with leaflets; to those who burned the midnight oil researching and becoming experts in many associated subjects and to all those who arranged and attended endless planning meetings.
People power has won us this first battle but the war will be won when the UK is entirely Frack Free. Fracking could return to Kent, and there is still a live application on the Medway for underground coal gasification, so for this reason, and because we want to support all those under threat, we will continue to actively oppose the government’s insane dash for gas which we believe will inflict a dangerous and destructive process on this densely populated island.
Our government should be developing renewable energy – not just for the good of the climate – but also because, in the long run, it will both provide far more jobs and be safer and cheaper than either fossil fuels or nuclear power. It is shameful that the Government has chosen to abruptly cut back on the feed in Tariffs that have been such a help to community groups, businesses and individuals in trying to cut our carbon footprint so we are now committed to find ways to support this new industry. Bore Free Eastry has already formed a community energy group and we hope more will follow.
EKAF says goodbye to fracking – hello to sun, wind and tides!