Council slammed for ‘weak and inadequate’ fracking response

Demonstration on Cliffe Bridge, Lewes, against fracking and drought.
Demonstration on Cliffe Bridge, Lewes, against fracking and drought.

ANTI-FRACKING campaigners slammed West Sussex County Council over a weak and inadequate response to what they termed an ‘historic’ move in Lewes last week.

Campaigners there saw East Sussex County Council unanimously pass a motion expressing concern at the process of Fracking, which sees chemicals and water pumped underground to release deposits of shale oil and gas trapped in the geology.

Campaigtn group No Fracking in Sussex had originally hoped the motion would lead to both counties being the first frack-free zone and that all counties in the South East would follow suit.

Leader of the group Vanessa Vine, after learning WSCC was merely circulating a ‘technical briefing’ said: “WSCC’s response is weak and inadequate and gives no guarantee that they will address local concerns which is the point of the motion passed by East Sussex Council Council.

“What tangible, practical steps have they taken to ensure that the public are properly and fully informed about the issue? I am not aware of any.”

Most of West Sussex is under license to explore for shale oil and gas, but deputy council leader Lionel Barnard (Con, Henfield) waved off any concerns in February when the issue was raised.

Asked whether they would respond to events in Lewes last week, a WSCC spokesperson said: “A technical briefing note has been sent to all members. The need for, and timing of, any scrutiny of this issue is currently being discussed internally taking account of the Government’s temporary stop on fracking and its on-going investigations into the matter.”

Ms Vine accused the council of misleading the public, as she said the Government has not put a temporary stop on fracking, something she has in writing from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Instead she claims Cuadrilla Holdings, the firm connected to earthquakes in Lancashire, suspended its operations voluntarily.

“So much for ‘factual’ information and ‘informed’ understanding. It also stated on page one of the briefing, that the fracking chemicals provide “purification” - a bizarre and worryingly misleading statement of which no clarification has been given,” she added.

Ms Vine also represented the area in a meeting with Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton, along with other environment non-government organisations at Portcullis House in late March.

For more information visit Facebook Group ‘No Fracking in Sussex’.