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County Councillors call for government to release DEFRA fracking report

Chris Satori
Today Lancashire County Council have rejected a planning application by Cuadrilla for a further prospective fracking site at Singleton. The ruling is separate to the Cuadrilla applications for two fracking sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood which the council deferred last month following legal advice, pending additional public consultation.

Gina Dowding, Green County Councillor for Lancaster Central, will tomorrow, Thursday 26 February at Full Council (see agenda) ask the County Council to demand that the Government releases more information about  the effects of Shale Gas extraction on rural economies - information which they are keeping under wraps.

County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, Labour's cabinet member has submitted a very similar motion. You can read both below.

In July  last year the Government's Department for Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published a report: Shale Gas, rural economy impacts,  but the version they released to the public is littered with the words 'redacted' and huge chunks of information have been removed. It seems likely that the reason for this is that it would provide evidence contradicting Prime Minister David Cameron's commitment to go 'all out' for fracking. You can download the report here.

An example from the report
Gina said

"We can only assume that the Government is hiding from us the negative effects that  Shale Gas will have on the economy in Lancashire. If they have nothing to hide they could have just published the report whole.

"I think that it is arrogant of central government to hide information from local people. It is like a judge hiding evidence from the jury - while telling them what decision to come to. It is absolutely clear that this government intends to force shale gas on Lancashire -regardless of the social and environmental costs.

" I think this call is very likely to get cross party support at County. We  hope that Government will listen to local representatives. "

The motions to be submitted are as follows:

  1. By County Councillor Gina Dowding:
    Lancashire County Council calls on the Government to release the Defra report Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts.

    This heavily redacted version of the report was released last year. The full report needs to be released in order that the public has full information and that Councillors can make fully informed decision about Cuadrilla’s applications.

  2. By County Councillor Marcus Johnstone:
    Lancashire County Council calls on the Government to release a full version of the report 'Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts' which was published by Defra in July 2014.

    The report was heavily redacted when published and to date the Government has not been willing to release the full document. The Council however recognises that there is community concern regarding regulatory regimes and the availability of information relating to shale gas development.

    In the interests of transparency the Council calls on the Government to release the report in full.