Molly Scott Cato has said the Greens are now the only political opponents to fracking in the South West. This week she and other Greens supported an amendment which called on member states not to authorise any new fracking operations in the EU. The two Ukip MEPs, William Dartmouth and Julia Reid, and Conservative MEP, Ashley Fox, voted against the amendment, while Labour’s Claire Moody abstained. Julie Girling, the other Tory MEP did not vote.

The amendment, put forward by Greens, was part of a review of the EU’s biodiversity strategy, and urged member states to reject fracking due to its negative impacts on the climate, environment and on biodiversity [1]. Despite most UK MEPs voting against the amendment it received majority support. Molly, whose constituency was recently opened up to the shale gas industry to apply for fracking licences, said:

“This is Europe at its best. A majority of democratically elected members doing the right thing defending our environment and communities from the frackers. What is shocking and shameful is that in our region, only the Greens are willing to stand up to this dinosaur industry. We know fracking is deeply unpopular and faces strong opposition whenever and wherever it raises its ugly head. Communities across the region don’t want the noise, air, light and water pollution that this industry would bring. And for the sake of our climate we must leave fossil fuels in the ground. The South West is not for shale and we will not allow this industry to devastate our beautiful region without a fight”.

Last August, 22 licence blocks for oil and gas extraction were issued across Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset alone, impacting on many sensitive and designated areas, including the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Poole Harbour, The Quantock Hills, Exmoor National Park, and Salisbury Plain. A number of areas of designation are potentially affected including SSSI, RAMSAR, Special Protected Area (SPA), Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), national parks and a world heritage site (WHS).

[1] Full amendment co-tabled by Keith Taylor MEP and Margrete Auken MEP to the Environment Committee draft report on ‘Mid-term review of the EU’s biodiversity strategy’:

Urges the Member States – on the basis of the precautionary principle and the principle that preventive action should be taken, and taking into account the risks and the negative climate, environmental and biodiversity impacts involved in hydraulic fracturing for the extraction of unconventional hydrocarbons, and the gaps identified in the EU regulatory regime for shale gas activities – not to authorise any new hydraulic fracturing operations in the EU.