BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 11 February '16

Greenpeace defends local democracy by taking fracking protest to Parliament Square

Greenpeace installed a life-like 10m fracking rig and drill at Parliament Square on Tuesday (09 February) to ‘bring the local impacts of fracking to the heart of democracy’.

The rig emitted a realistic flame which was fired up every hour using bio ethanol. At the same time, flood lighting and the sound effects of drilling and lorries reverberated around the House of Commons.

Local democracy

A new Populus poll released by Greenpeace shows that nearly two-thirds (62%) of people in the UK think their local council, not central government departments, should decide whether to accept or reject fracking applications in their local area. 

Last year Lancashire council voted against allowing the fracking industry to drill. But now David Cameron’s government has announced the decision could be recalled. The final say lies with one minister – Greg Clark.

Click here to sign the petition to tell Greg Clark not to overrule Lancashire council’s decision to say no to shale gas.

The final say

The protest and polling results coincided with the first day of the independent Planning Inspectorate inquiry into whether fracking will go ahead in Lancashire. Energy company Cuadrilla, which is owned by companies based in Australia and the Cayman Islands, is appealing against Lancashire county council’s decision to reject its fracking application.

However, Greg Clark, the Communities Minister, has already announced he will have the final say on whether Cuadrilla will be allowed to frack in Lancashire. In a bid to fast track fracking, the government announced last year that he could ignore both the decision by the local council and the Planning Inspectorate.

’Take power now’

In a letter sent to Lancashire County Council in November last year, Greg Clark explained, ‘The reason for this direction is because the drilling appeals involve proposals for exploring and developing shale gas which amount to proposals for development of major importance having more than local significance and proposals which raise important or novel issues of development control, and/or legal difficulties.’

Previously Greg Clark had been vocal in his support for the idea of local decision-making. Back In 2011 he said that local councils should ‘wield real power’, and last year Clark told the Local Government Association that they must ‘Take power now. Don’t let yourself, any longer, be ruled by someone else.’

‘We are here to fight for the future of the English countryside. Ministers are pushing aside local democracy to bulldoze through their unpopular fracking plans. We have installed a life-like fracking rig and drill at Parliament Square to show them what people in Lancashire and beyond will have to endure if so-called Communities Minister Greg Clark forces fracking on a reluctant nation.’

Hannah Martin, Greenpeace campaigner

Losing control

Last weekend, campaigners and local people were angered further by a leaked letter from three Cabinet ministers – Liz Truss, Amber Rudd and Greg Clark to George Osborne. The letter suggested that fracking applications could be taken out of local authorities’ control altogether and immediately passed to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Planning process.

‘This is an affront to local democracy and shows a lack of respect for people’s wishes.

‘People who love and live in the countryside and who care about climate change will not stand for a government riding roughshod over democracy to industrialise our landscape and damage the climate.’

Hannah Martin, Greenpeace campaigner

Last year, a Greenpeace report revealed that Cuadrilla is owned by companies based in Australia and the tax haven of the Cayman Islands, and that four out of 10 fracking license holders are either wholly or partially owned through tax havens.

Click here to sign the petition to tell Greg Clark not to overrule Lancashire council’s decision to say no to shale gas.