Calderdale Alarm at Government’s fracking U turn on promise to protect Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Frack Free Calderdale campaigners are concerned that some of Calderdale’s Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are under threat from fracking, as the government has performed a U turn on its promise to protect these areas.

Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP, said:

“The government’s U-turn on protecting the UK’s most precious wildlife sites from fracking is outrageous. It’s yet another illustration that ministers simply cannot be trusted when it comes to fracking.”

There has been no public consultation on dropping SSSIs from the list of protected areas where fracking would be excluded. With a September date for Parliament to discuss draft legislation excluding SSSIs from protection from fracking, a spokesperson for campaign group Frack Free Calderdale said:

“Calder Valley constituents can contact Craig Whittaker, and tell him to closely follow the Order in Parliament and vote against it in the House of Commons. With New York state, Germany France and now the Netherlands banning fracking, and MEDACT stating that fracking is a danger to public health, Calderdale must not allow itself to be a target for this industry, which no regulation can prevent the dangers of.”

If you want a written reply, rather than an email directing you to your MP’s website, you need to post a letter by snail mail.

According to a DECC spokesperson, SSSIs:

“…already have strong protection under the existing planning and regulatory regime…it would be impractical to completely rule out drilling in SSSIs…However, the National Planning Policy Framework already makes clear that development should not normally be permitted if it is likely to have an adverse effect on a Site of Special Scientific Interest.”

The head of Crimsworth Dean

The head of Crimsworth Dean

With the 14th onshore Licensing rounds set to announce awards to drilling companies in the next few weeks, shale bearing areas, such as Crimsworth Dean just north of Pecket Well, Hebden Bridge, could be in danger of being part of the UK government’s  ‘Dash for Gas’, which experts agree runs contrary to our international commitments to reduce carbon emissions through the Climate Change Act.