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Environment Forum calls on York to ban fracking

9 April 2014

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:9 April 2014

A York environmental think tank calling for fracking to be banned in the York Local Authority area is urging residents to make their opposition to the process known by responding to a vital consultation before Friday.

York Environment Forum has issued a statement asking City of York Council not to permit hydraulic fracturing – also known as fracking – or coal seam gas extraction. Developing approaches for unconventional gas extraction is included in the Minerals and Waste Joint Plan currently being consulted on that will form part of York’s Local Plan.

The plan for the combined City of York Council, North Yorkshire County Council and North York Moors National Park areas contains options to identify a suitable approach to any proposals for Coal Bed Methane, Underground Coal Gasification, shale gas and carbon storage development within the Joint Plan area.

‘The document is part of the roadmap that will determine how we respond to applications for shale gas extraction in our area,’ said Kate Lock, the Forum’s Chair. ‘Almost half the British public is now opposed to fracking within 10 miles of their homes and if you look at the licences that have already been granted for the Joint Plan area, very many of us could be affected. If you are concerned, it really is important to respond to the consultation before the 5pm deadline on Friday 11 April.’

Licences for exploration, appraisal and development have already been granted in blocks around the western fringe of York (in an area extending to York Minster), to the east in the Vale of Pickering and within the North York Moors. More new licences may be granted by the Government in the near future.

‘Of the options presented, we favour options 1 and 3, which give the joint local authorities the greatest level of control,’ said Kate Lock. ‘However, York Environment Forum feels that the Joint Plan should not support fracking in principle and we are pleased that Ryedale District Council’s own head of planning has also made that recommendation. We would like York to follow suit.’

In a statement, York Environment Forum said it objected to fracking on the following grounds:

  • ‘The process risks pollution of groundwater and irreversible contamination of aquifers, with consequences for agriculture and human and animal health.
  •  It will generate thousands of extra heavy lorry movements, causing congestion, disturbance and infrastructure damage.
  • It will lead to the industrialisation of our countryside and agricultural land.
  • It has been known to cause earth tremors that could damage York’s unique architectural and archaeological heritage.
  • The volume of water required will be an additional stress on our area’s freshwater supply.
  • It could lower property prices and ‘devalue’ the attractiveness of York, which could influence the city’s economic security.
  • It will not deliver the kinds of jobs relevant to most York people.
  • Natural gas extracted by these methods will not result in lower energy costs for York residents.
  • Financial inducements (community payments, retention of business rates) will not be sufficient to compensate for the damage and destruction to York’s communities, properties, public health and natural assets.
  • Methane leaks and the carbon dioxide released from burning the gas could prevent York from achieving its legal targets in line with the Climate Change Act of 2008.
  • It diverts attention from and investment into clean renewable energy in York and the surrounding area.’

The Forum is calling on City of York Council to state publicly its opposition to fracking, to reject planning applications for shale gas exploration and to make a commitment in the Local Plan to work with neighbouring authorities towards an energy future based on renewables.

To read and respond to the Minerals and Waste Joint Plan Issues and Options Consultation, go to:  www.northyorks.gov.uk/mwconsult

Ends

Notes for Editors

  • York Environment Forum (www.yorkenvironmentforum.org.uk)  is the voice for the environment in York, encompassing both the natural environment and the built environment. The Environment Forum has been operating for ten years and is one of the outside bodies that the City of York Council works in partnership with. It has a representative from each of the political groups elected to the Council on it and is connected to the City’s strategic infrastructure through the York Environment Partnership, part of York Without Walls. It has recently become a constituted organisation.
  • This year York Environment Forum has already hosted a talk on alternative economic models involving students from Archbishop Holgates C E School and an academic from the University of Leeds. It has also presented the Housing Design Awards Exhibition at York Guildhall, sponsored by the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, and a lecture on sustainable housing design by local architect Phil Bixby.
  • Membership of the York Environment Forum is open to representatives from any appropriate groups, organisations or businesses with an interest in environmental matters, as well as individuals and parish councillors. Meetings are bimonthly at City of York Council’s West Offices. Organisations, parish councils and businesses represented on York Environment  Forum include: Edible York ; York Natural Environment Trust; Friends of the Earth; Friends of St Nicholas Fields; TIM in York; Just York; Yorkshire Wildlife Trust; York in Transition; Wheatlands Community Woodland; Council for the Protection of Rural England; York Open Planning Forum; York Quakers; Constructive Individuals;  CTC North Yorks; Murton Parish Council; Bishopthorpe Parish Council; Heslington Parish Council; Strensall Parish Council;  SGS Ltd; The Healing Clinic; YRAIN; Frack-Free York; Planet South Bank; Friends of Rowntree Park; Fulford Community Orchard; MASS Architecture; Stockholm Environment Institute;  York Tomorrow; University of York Sustainability Forum; Yorkshire and Humber Environment Forum; TCV; Tang Hall and Heworth Residents’ Assoc; University of York Environmental Policy Think Tank; Schumacher North.
  • York Environment Forum is chaired by journalist, author and environmental researcher Kate Lock with Philip Crowe of York Tomorrow as Deputy Chair.
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