Government accused of fracking bias by Isle of Wight Council

By Emily Pearce

Thursday, January 21, 2016


FRACKING on the Isle of Wight should be a matter for Island people — not the 'biased' government.

That was the message from the Isle of Wight Council last night (Wednesday), after a licence was recently granted to allow oil exploration and extraction in large areas of the Isle of Wight.

Councillors backed a motion put forward by Cllr John Medland, that any appeals against fracking decisions by the local authority should be heard by a planning inspector, rather than a minister, as government has said.

They also agreed time limits should be extended for fracking applications, enabling them to be considered in detail.

"The government has clearly established a bias. The Prime Minister has declared 'we're going all out for shale.' The secretary of state is a member of a cabinet with a clear policy in favour of fracking.

"It is inappropriate for him to determine appeals," said Cllr Medland.

He spoke of the environmental risks posed by fracking, including water contamination, but oil industry veteran Cllr Roger Whitby-Smith said it was safe providing it was done properly.

Cllr Daryll Pitcher said it was unlikely the Isle of Wight would be fracked as oil had never been found in sufficient quantities to drill for it before and fracking was expensive at a time when oil prices were cheap, he said.

Cllr Jonathan Bacon said: "We can't block a legal process. But we can ensure the process is as rigorous as possible."

Last year the council decided against declaring itself 'anti fracking' because it could not be seen to prejudge future planning applications.

Welcoming the decision, Isle of Wix Green Party leader Vix Lowthion said: "Some councillors said they did not feel they had enough knowledge about fracking to vote. After a year of fracking motions being presented to council, national headlines and letters from concerned Islanders, I despair elected officials have not educated themselves better.

"The people of the Island must unite against fracking."

A gathering of people concerned against fracking will be held at Hanover Car Park, Military Road, on Sunday, January 31, at 10am.


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