Fracking. Depressing, eh? Some good news then: in a vote this week Ceredigion announced their intention to became the first frack-free local authority in Wales. That is great news thanks to a lot of work by some good people. This is the statement:
"As a council which is leading on the use of renewable energy and energy conservation, we believe that Hydraulic Fracturing, Coal Bed Methane and Underground Coal Gasification (commonly referred to as 'Fracking') are incompatible with Ceredigion's energy strategy as well as arousing considerable public concern. Having received a large petition from Ceredigion residents to this effect, we are happy to declare that we will not support fracking within the county and are therefore pleased to declare Ceredigion a Frack-free Local Authority. We hope that our commitment to a cleaner energy future will show the rest of Wales how important it is to protect our environment for future generations and to allow us to stand together with other forward thinking Local Authorities."
More good news: Scotland has just voted to have a temporary ban on fracking. However, in Wales the policy is determined by Westminster, England. The Guardian article says:
"Full control over fracking is due to be devolved to Scotland after May’s general election, following recommendations of last November’s Smith commission. On Tuesday, the Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones said that he believed that fracking licensing should also be devolved to Wales, and that the Welsh parliament should consider a moratorium on fracking."
So at the moment the Welsh Government has the intention, but not the power, to completely protect its people from oil companies invading their homes. It can only be blocked on a local council basis.
The real bad news is that this week MPs voted to give the green light to fracking across the UK. 50 MPs broke ranks to vote against the plans, but it wasn’t enough. (Note that Ceredigion's MP, Mark Williams, was one of the good ones and had voted for a moratorium on fracking - thanks Mark).
As a result trespass laws have changed: energy companies can drill for oil and gas under our homes. Maybe if we get a greener Parliament in the future this can be overturned, but in the meantime the main hope is for county councils to block fracking. Yesterday’s vote had some positives: fracking is now banned in national parks. Slowly, because of everything climate change campaigners, human rights advocates, and environmentalists have done together, support for fracking is wavering - and MPs are feeling the heat.