Several residents have contacted me to ask about my views on fracking in relation to a campaign being led by Greenpeace asking candidates to sign the 'Frack Free Promise'. I am pleased to confirm that I have signed the Frack Free Promise and I have set out below my views in detail below.
My day job for the past 17 years has been as a town planner, and I spent 18 months working on a major project which helped built environment professions to better address climate change. It was a really significant project until the Tory Lib Dem government archived it in 2010. Climate change and our response to it is a top priority issue for me.
In relation to fracking, I am very concerned both about the potential local environmental impacts, such as pollution of the water table, and the climate change impacts of fracking such as the damaging release of methane into the atmosphere. In my view we need to do much more as a country to encourage renewable energy production and I am a strong supporter of both wind and solar power.
The Labour Party managed to stop the Tory Lib Dem coalition government's attempt to introduce under-regulated fracking in the UK earlier this year, which would have opened the way for fracking in many places with potentially dire consequences. The Labour Party introduced 13 tests which must be met in full in order for fracking to proceed. I have set out these tests below, and I hope you will agree that they set a very high bar.
Any hydraulic fracturing activity cannot take place:
- unless an environmental impact assessment has been carried out
- unless independent inspections are carried out of the integrity of wells used
- unless monitoring has been undertaken on the site over the previous 12 month period
- unless site-by-site measurement, monitoring and public disclosure of existing and future fugitive emissions is carried out
- in land which is located within the boundary of a groundwater source protection zone
- within or under protected areas
- in deep-level land at depths of less than 1,000 metres
- unless planning authorities have considered the cumulative impact of hydraulic fracturing activities in the local area
- unless a provision is made for community benefit schemes to be provided by companies engaged in the extraction of gas and oil rock
- unless residents in the affected area are notified on an individual basis
- unless substances used are subject to approval by the Environment Agency
- unless land is left in a condition required by the planning authority
- unless water companies are consulted by the planning authority.
Dulwich and West Norwood has a very high water table in many place due to the presence of underground rivers, and many rich and sensitive natural environments. I cannot envisage any circumstances in which the 13 tests would be met in relation to any site in Dulwich and West Norwood and I am therefore pleased to make a commitment that I will oppose any attempts to introduce fracking in our constituency.
In relation to sites elsewhere in the country, I am clear that the 13 tests are a very high bar, and I am absolutely committed to these tests being a cast iron package - meaning that the failure to meet any one of them should mean that fracking cannot proceed.
I am not currently aware of any sites in the UK where all of these tests can be met and I will therefore stand alongside any communities seeking to oppose fracking on the basis of the 13 tests which the Labour Party has introduced.