Sussex is about to make a big fracking decision. Here's why it matters

Posted by Richard Casson — 6 June 2014 at 6:31am - Comments
by-nc. Credit: Ciaran McCrickard / Greenpeace

It's been a busy week.

On Monday, Paul McCartney (and a whole lot of other well known names) came out and said that he's got some big questions about fracking.

Then on Wednesday, the prime minister used the Queen's Speech to announce he wants to tear up people's long-standing rights that allow them to stop fracking firms from drilling under their home. (Needless to say, we weren't so happy about that idea. And neither are 74% of the UK public. So here's how we voiced our concern with Dave).

And right now as I send this, I'm at Chichester county hall in West Sussex – along with a team of Greenpeace volunteers – about to head out and talk to county councillors here about fracking.

We're here because big decisions are about to take place in West Sussex. Decisions that could have a profound knock-on effect for the future of fracking throughout the rest of the UK.

West Sussex is one of the areas right at the heart of the debate about fracking. County councillors and members of the South Downs National Park Authority are about to take critical votes, choosing whether to give the go ahead to drilling at two villages – Wisborough Green and Fernhurst.

If West Sussex gives fracking the thumbs up, it could open the floodgates for a dash for gas.

Over the last couple of weeks, we commissioned a big, independent survey of Sussex residents. We asked people to tell us their views about fracking, and about their concerns about drilling for shale gas and oil in the area.

The result? 66% of people said they'd like to see a moratorium (temporary ban) on fracking. And 73% said more time should be allowed for a public debate on the issue. And in a clear signal to their representatives, 40% said they would be less likely to vote for politicians who are in favour of allowing fracking in Sussex.

But despite the clear level of concern, West Sussex councillors are under tremendous pressure to bow to industry lobbying and government pressure.

That's why we're here today, making it clear what's at stake and showing the extent of the growing opposition. All morning we'll be talking to councillors as they arrive, showing them a map of the thousands of people in the region who oppose fracking.

We'll be championing the right of local people to object to drilling, and encouraging councillors to take a stand against an industry that is trying to bulldoze its way relentlessly across the countryside.

We'll be tweeting all the time we're here too, so follow us here for live updates and a few photos of what we get up to. Of if you're nearby in Chichester, come on down to say hello. We're handing out tasty frackjacks – like flapjacks, but far more palatable than government plans to frack your backyard.

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