In the face of thousands of objections, this week West Sussex county councillors voted to allow ‘investigative drilling’ near Balcombe village.
Fossil-fuel firm Cuadrilla can now conduct invasive tests in the hunt for oil and gas reserves, laying the ground for fracking at the doorstep of communities who do not want it.
That decision has the potential to significantly affect our lives. The application includes a technique known as ‘acidising’ which brings similar risks to fracking to our health and environment.
The Balcombe application is one of dozens across the south east which, if given consent, will leave areas like the Weald pockmarked with oil wells.
The potential damage includes leakage of toxic liquids – and Balcombe is too close to our water supply for comfort. In Lancashire, there has been chronic flooding of the Cuadrilla site and we cannot assume this won’t happen here, with potentially disastrous consequences for our water supply.
The relentless push from the Conservative government to back ‘unconventional’ oil and gas across the UK has included legislation to allow investigative drilling, acidising and fracking even in our precious National Parks.
The scientific consensus is clear - our pursuit of fossil fuels causes climate change. It’s a no win - we lose once in the destruction of our precious countryside and twice in refusing to avert climate chaos by keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
Just 13 per cent of the British public support fracking, yet the Greens are the only party speaking climate sense.
In 2013 Greens secured the status of Brighton and Hove as a ‘no fracking zone.’ With a Labour party silent and a Conservative party complicit, we cannot assume they will stand up for people and planet, nor that our ‘frack free’ status is not at risk. Just as the cost of renewables is coming down, with more power in 2016 generated from the sun than coal, and Rampion windfarm providing energy on our shores, renewables should be what our future is made of, not the dirty fossil fuels of the past.
Cllr Phelim Mac Cafferty is the convenor of the Greens on Brighton & Hove City Council..