I suspect I’m not the only one to be delighted and relieved about the announcement this week about new protections to be put in place that will restrict “Fracking” in sensitive areas.
Geological evidence shows that fracking could lead to a significant disruption to the hot water spring waters on which the tourism of the World Heritage City of Bath depends and could damage the water pressure without which we could see buildings in the city collapse.
Even though the latest British Geological Survey Maps show that the three main areas where large amounts of shale oil and gas exists lie nowhere near the city, it’s reassuring that the new protections offered by DECC would set a high hurdle before fracking could be considered near Bath.
Other parts of the country deserve similar protections; not just World Heritage Sites, but also National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding National Beauty. And that’s what Ed Davey has secured.
But I actually agree with the rationale for the exploration of shale gas and oil as long as it’s done in a responsible way.
Lib Dems in government have already made huge progress in bringing on more renewable power, but for the next few decades as we reduce energy supplies from coal and are still building up green energy supplies, we’ll still need a lot of gas. So, the question is where should we get it from? It’s not a green policy to say yes to increasing imports from as far away as Qatar when potentially home-grown gas could add to the mix.
And we also have to consider energy security. The more “home-grown” energy we have, the less dependent we are on supplies from potentially unreliable sources.
That’s why fracking – done in a responsible way – could be so important.
Despite opposition, Ed Davey has secured major new protections that will ensure a responsible approach to any licencing regime for fracking.
As I see it, Ed has secured three key protections;
1 - As part of the initial application process, DECC will require the ‘Statement of Environmental Awareness’ to be particularly comprehensive when it comes to sensitive areas or areas adjacent to them. Unless DECC is satisfied the application will be rejected.
2- DCLG will publish new planning guidance. It is clear that applications in these areas will be refused unless there are exceptional circumstances and that it is in the public interest.
3 -If planning is refused, and a developer appeals, DCLG can now ‘call in the case’ and ensure the new planning guidance has been applied correctly.
Ed has successfully struck the right balance between justified NIMBYISM and national need.
Considerable concern has been expressed about the possibility of shale gas extraction through “fracking” in or around Bath. Research evidence has shown that fracking could damage the hot springs on which the tourism economy of Bath depends.
Following extensive lobbying by Bath’s MP Don Foster and Council Leader Cllr Paul Crossley, the Government has announced new restrictions which mean there is minimal chance of fracking taking place in or around Bath.
Commenting, Don Foster said: “Paul and I have worked hard with Secretary of State, Ed Davey MP, to ensure Bath residents now have a new package of protections to fend off anyone who thinks fracking in our area might be a good idea.”
Cllr Crossley added: “I’m delighted. The geological evidence we provided shows that fracking could lead to a significant disruption of hot water spring waters on which the tourism of the city depends and could damage the water pressure without which we could buildings in the city collapse.”
Don Foster and Paul Crossley have also pointed to the recently published maps which show that the three main areas where large amounts of shale gas exists lie nowhere near the city. (The closest one being in the South East corner of England, whilst the other two are in the North East of England and Scotland. You can see the maps by clicking here.)
Don Foster said; “with these new protections and evidence that the best sources of shale gas are nowhere near Bath, the message is clear, “if you want to frack, then look somewhere else.”
Bath MP, Don Foster has welcomed the news that the number of unemployed claimants in Bath has continued to fall over the last year.
The number of unemployed claimants in the Bath constituency in June 2014 was 775. This represents a rate of 1.8% of the economically active population aged 16 to 64. The number of claimants is 376 lower than in June 2013 and 88 lower that in May 2014.
Commenting Don Foster said: “This drop in unemployed claimants in Bath is a good indicator of the progress being made. There is a long way to go, but the economy is on the mend and jobs are crucial to building a stronger economy and a fairer society that allows everyone to get on in life.”
Locally, unemployment figures are well below the national average and regional average in Bath with unemployment standing at 5.2%. The national unemployment figure is just over 7% and the regional unemployment figure is 5.4%.
On a national lever, the employment rate has never been higher as the number of people in work reached a record high of 73.1% only hit once before in 2005.
Commenting further, Steve Bradley, Lib Dem PPC for Bath, added: “These figures are great news for Bath and highlight the great work being done by the Lib Dems both in Government and locally at the Council.”
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said between March and May 30.64m people were in work, 254,000 more than between December and February and 929,000 more than a year.