United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas, which represents the pro-fracking industry, is sponsoring a Planning and Environment Summit this Wednesday, 6th July.
The Summit, costing up to nearly £1,000 per ticket for businesses, has sessions with titles like 'Speeding up the Decision-making process for Shale Gas Applications' and `Past, present and future of onshore UK gas exploration – planning implications...What actions can local authorities take to best evaluate the economical benefits alongside the environmental impacts?'.
The final panel session includes a discussion on the `vehement opposition to fracking' – and outside the venue, at 12:30pm, anti-fracking campaigners are aiming to show the attendants what this means, with a Draw The Line On Fracking protest.
Campaigners from Frack Free Greater Manchester, Manchester Friends of the Earth, Reclaim the Power, Greenpeace and the Campaign Against Climate Change have joined forces to make a symbolic 'red line' outside the Manchester Conference Centre, wearing red, they state, "to symbolise the 'red lines' that the world must not cross in order to avoid dangerous climate change. This follows on from a similar action in Paris last December when 10,000 people rallied Paris to demand further action after the Paris Agreement."
The Government was due to publish a report by the independent Committee on Climate Change on the impact of fracking on climate change earlier this year, believed to show that fracking is far worse for the climate than previous reports but publication has been delayed.
Meanwhile, the Fourteenth Round of licensing in December 2015 opened up large parts of the north of England for fracking, including virtually the whole of Salford (see here). Opposed to this, The Campaign Against Climate Change, looking at the potential for both renewable energy and energy conservation, estimate one million new jobs could be created in the UK; while a report from Friends of the Earth, supported by PCS Union and North West trades councils, estimated that exploiting the North West's huge renewable energy potential and saving energy in the region's homes could support another 24,000 jobs.
The latest opinion tracker from Department of Energy and Climate Change shows support for fracking has plummeted to an all-time low of 19%, whilst support for renewables remains high at 81%. And IGas, which did exploratory drilling at Barton Moss with fracking in mind, has seen its share price collapse over the last two years, from a high of 160p in 2014 to 15p this month.
A report from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority last month, as part of its strategy to cut emissions by 80% by 2050, suggested the "almost total elimination of gas at home" by 2030" further undermining the fracking industry, although it had nothing to say on fracking at all (see previous Salford Star article – click here).
"Fracking isn't just something we mustn't do, it's something we'd be mad to want to do" says Martin Porter of the Manchester Greenpeace Network "Instead of a toxic nightmare in Bury, Bolton or Wigan, we could have green energy jobs across the whole of the region."
His point is underlined by Frack Free Greater Manchester's Jenny Ross: "The decisions we make now about energy will echo down the ages. It's crucial that we get this right. Fracking is incompatible with our Paris commitments, and deeply unpopular with the public who question why we are exploiting ever more fossil fuel resources when we could be investing in jobs for local people in clean, green energy that won't cost the earth."
Judy Paskell of the Manchester Campaign Against Climate Change adds: "To have a reasonable chance of keeping global temperature rise below 2 degrees we need to leave 80% of existing reserves of fossil fuels in the ground. So we cannot allow a new source of fossil fuel, extracted at great cost to the health and environment of affected communities ,to take hold in the UK. Fracked gas is not part of the transition to a low carbon economy but a potent addition to the threat of dangerous climate change."
And Ali Abbas of Manchester Friends of the Earth explains: "People across Greater Manchester are rightly concerned about the risks that fracking poses to our health and the environment. We call on our local politicians to stand up to the Government and the fracking companies, and make it clear that fracking isn't welcome in Greater Manchester."
Draw The Line On Fracking
Wednesday 6th July 12:30pm
Manchester Conference Centre, Sackville Street M1 3BB
For further details on the event see the Facebook page - click here
* UPDATE: 6th July Report on the Protest - click here