Friday, 1 November 2013

Brent to investigate if it has powers to ban fracking

Following the campaign by Friends of the Earth and the recent demonstration by Brent FoE at Willesden Green station. along with my own modest suggestion that local authorities declare 'Fracking Free Zones' LINK along the lines of the 'Nuclear Free Zones' of the 70s and 80s, Brent Council today announced that they are the first London Council investigating whether it has powers to ban fracking in the borough.

Some may argue that this would be gesture politics as fracking is unlikely in the borough but I think as with the Nuclear Free Zones it would make a clear statement of principle that may well come in useful in the future as technology advances. As such it will be welcomed by Brent Green Party.

This is the Council Statement

Brent Council is to become the first local authority in London to investigate whether powers under the Localism or Planning Acts allow it to ban fracking in the borough.

Residents of the borough and Friends of the Earth have been campaigning for councillors from all parties to pledge to prevent any fracking from taking place within the borders of Brent. The council has now promised to look at utilising any legal avenues it has at its disposal to stop shale gas extraction. It is believed to be the first step of this kind by a council in the UK.

Campaigners and residents are concerned that fracking can lead to mild earthquakes, large quantities of methane gas being released and a poisoning of the water supply, while many organisations also worry that the industry, because of how new it is, is still not regulated or supervised closely enough.

Scores of councils, states and local authorities around the world have banned fracking in their areas but Brent would be the first council in the UK to do it.

Brent Council is also argues that the Big Energy Switch, where residents can sign up to bulk buying their electricity through their local authority which would save people money on their energy bills in the short term.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Muhammed Butt, said:-
While there may be advantages to fracking in some parts of the country it would be dangerous and reckless for companies to start drilling in Brent. I will do everything legally within my power to address the concerns of residents and keep Brent a frack-free zone.

Councils have significant and widespread powers which allow us to stand up for the rights of residents. I am determined to use these powers to help reassure people that fracking in Brent will always be a non-starter.

While fracking may not be planned for Brent yet, the rapid pace and scale of fracking technology means that we need to act now if we are to ensure we have the necessary examination of the powers we have to potentially prevent it from happening in the future.

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