Green light for fracking

The green squares have all been offered for oil and gas exploration licences.
The green squares have all been offered for oil and gas exploration licences.

Groups have spoken up about the new fracking licences issued for areas across East Yorkshire, including Pocklington.

The Government has offered oil and gas company Cuadrilla Resources, in partnership with GDF Suez E&P UK, fracking licences for areas all over East Yorkshire, including land around Pocklington, Sutton-on-Derwent and Stamford Bridge.

The green squares have all been offered for oil and gas exploration licences.

The green squares have all been offered for oil and gas exploration licences.

Cuadrilla said the exact sites have not yet been decided as seismic and geophysical surveys need to be conducted to find where the most gas is. It is expected to take over a year before sites can be chosen.

Following the issue of new oil and gas licences, Friends of the Earth called on David Cameron to listen to East Yorkshire residents’ concerns about fracking and how it will affect their health and the environment.

Yorkshire and the Humber campaigner for Friends of the Earth, Simon Bowens said: “The UK Government has taken the first step to impose fracking and unconventional gas on the people of East Yorkshire. David Cameron should not subject the community of East Yorkshire to the potential harm from this risky industry.”

Richard Howarth of Frack Free East Yorkshire said: “East Yorkshire is at the heart of a Northern Sacrifice Zone for fracking. If you live in East Riding and hoped you could ignore fracking because it wouldn’t affect you - well now it does.”

He added: “The government’s own figures show that fracking is deeply unpopular, and we know that when people find out more about fracking, most people are opposed to it. No matter how desperate the outdated and increasingly extreme fossil fuel industry gets, they cannot force an industry on a population that rejects it.”

Campaign manager for Frack Free Driffield and Wolds, Iris Gaughan, said that she was not surprised that the government gave out the licences for these areas, although they do cover a larger area than she expected and she explained: “We are obviously not happy about it.”

She said: “We will be fighting this all the way by writing to MPs and to planners.”

However, chairman of the POWER Action Group, Ian Dewar, said that there is not enough evidence at the moment for POWER to take a stance for or against fracking and that they are currently undertaking a thorough examination of evidence on both sides before they make a decision on their collective views.

He said: “At the moment, collectively at least, we are not in a position to offer an informed opinion.”

“We do have one major concern, which is the effect on the groundwater.”

Mr Dewar said he is also aware that fracking companies must go through rigorous health and safety checks and planning applications before their activities can begin. He added that these companies will likely face a number of demands from East Riding Council, POWER Action Group and other groups to ensure that their activities do not negatively affect the local area or its residents.

Chief executive officer of Cuadrilla, Francis Egan, said that the licences in East Yorkshire would give the company a leading position in the area. He added: “The massive potential for the natural gas to be extracted in these areas could help to drive the Northern Powerhouse by securing the low carbon energy future of the UK as well as creating investment and local jobs across the region.”

Previously, a fracking licence was offered for an area north east of Pocklington that covers Wetwang, Tibthorpe, North Dalton and Garton on the Wolds.

The government also voted in favour of allowing fracking under national parks and other protected sites, which the opposition claimed is a U-turn on previous promises to protect them. All fracking in these areas must take place at least 1.2 kilometres below the surface. Conservative MP for East Yorkshire, Greg Knight, did not vote on this matter.

Following the vote in favour of fracking under protected areas and the licences in East Yorkshire being issued, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust said that they are “bitterly disappointed and shall continue to fight for our protected areas.”

Head of Living Landscape at The Wildlife Trusts, Paul Wilkinson said: “This government’s aggressive drive for fracking is showing blatant disregard for our precious protected places and the need for urgent action on climate change. This is a risky, unnecessary and shameful decision.”

Mr Bowens of Friends of the Earth also criticised the government’s perceived U-Turn on its promise to protect national parks.

Iris Gaughan said she expects that more people will be opposed to fracking now that the government has voted to allow fracking under protected areas.

She said: “I don’t think the government has done itself any favours by doing that.”