In a letter to yesterday’s Sunday Times, a large cross section of environmental and conservation groups called on the current Government to stop fracking – and I’m proud to say that WWF was among them. This is the first time such a large number of influential groups have joined together to add our voices to widespread environmental concerns about fracking:
We, the undersigned, are writing to express our shared concern over the Government’s headlong rush into fracking. A dash for shale gas and oil extraction is incompatible with our responsibility to address climate change and to protect wildlife and the natural environment.
The protest in Balcombe, Sussex is not an isolated case of local dissent. Rather, it should be seen as emblematic of the broad public concern shared by many of our members about the threat to communities and the environment posed by fracking, and anger that a government which came to power with aspirations of being the ‘greenest ever’ is now recklessly pursuing new sources of fossil fuels. Rather than addressing these concerns, the Government has aggravated them by “streamlining” planning and processes for granting environmental permits to encourage shale gas extraction, and promising “the most generous tax regime in the world” for the industry.
If we embrace fracking to the degree proposed by the Coalition, the UK will be left with a gas-dependent energy system for decades to come, meaning our ability to meet our legally-binding carbon targets will be significantly compromised. Meanwhile there is no evidence that UK shale will reduce household energy bills and the clean technologies that can actually limit climate impacts, improve energy efficiency and deliver cheaper energy over time are being side-lined.
We call on the Government to put the brakes on fracking in the UK now, and to put the focus back on using energy more efficiently and tapping into our greatest natural assets – wind, wave, and solar power – all of which would allow us to prosper in the long-run by providing safe, clean and renewable energy to fuel our economy.
Mike Clarke – chief executive, RSPB
Stephanie Hilborne – CEO, Wildlife Trusts
John Sauven – Executive Director, Greenpeace UK
David Nussbaum – CEO, WWF-UK
Andy Atkins – Executive Director, Friends of the Earth
Phoebe Cullingworth – Climate Campaigns Manager, People & Planet
Simon Howlett – Co-Director, UK Youth Climate Coalition
David Babbs – Executive Director, 38 Degrees