Renewable energy firm Ecotricity has accused Eric Pickles of having “double standards”. The company argues the communities secretary prioritises local voices in wind farm planning decisions but fails to do so when it comes to fracking.
The controversial method of fracking to extract shale gas has led to protests in many local communities. Research suggests the public support for fracking has been decreasing, with just 25% of the public saying it should be allowed to happen in the UK in January.
Ecotricity’s campaign comes as a protest is being organised against the “unwanted and unsafe” technique in Manchester.
Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, said, “The government appears hell-bent on imposing shale gas fracking on Britain, and we think the risks to local communities and the local environment are simply not worth taking.
“Eric Pickles has become an outspoken advocate of localism, insisting that local voices are heard on planning decisions regarding wind power, yet local voices are being completely bypassed when it come to shale gas fracking… this is a clear double standard.”
The energy company is calling for the government to bring planning decisions on fracking in line with wind farms and for households to boycott energy suppliers investing in shale gas. A number of suppliers have invested in fracking, including British Gas owner Centrica, which bought a 25% stake in one of the UK’s leading fracking firms in June last year.
Vince added, “Local people who are opposed to the risky process of fracking need to make sure their voices are heard now, because after March 28 the government will begin issuing drilling licences across massive swathes of the country – around two-thirds of the British Isles will be open for fracking with possibly 10,000 to 20,000 rigs eventually spread across the country.”
The government has tried to improve support for shale gas extraction by offering incentives to local councils. Fracking bosses have previously been accused of having direct access to key ministers and trying to influence policy.
Green party MP Caroline Lucas, who has supported Ecotricity’s campaign, commented, “Fracking is dirty, dangerous and completely incompatible with our responsibility to take action to avoid dangerous climate change.”