Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser
You can’t read the papers or watch the news without some mention being made of fracking. Despite this many people are still unaware of what fracking entails. For those who don’t know, it is an onshore process of drilling through rock to extract gas and oil from areas where there are profitable deposits. It is a highly controversial process, which has been banned in some countries and states due to the risks to the people living in the vicinity where the fracking takes place. Water and chemicals are pumped in to the ground to force out the gas and oil deposits. The drilling process has been blamed for causing small earthquakes (two occurred in Blackpool in 2011), polluting the water supply and causing tumours and other health problems. The film Gasland which can be viewed on Youtube is an eye opening introduction for anyone interested in the subject.
In December 2013 the entirely unelected House of Lords took powers over some aspects of energy back from Scotland, paving the way for fracking licences to be granted, a process which begun in July 2014. On the 8th December the House of Commons voted on the Infrastructure Bill, part of which included giving private companies the right to carry out fracking underneath other peoples properties. What I found most shocking was that the Labour Party abstained from the final vote allowing the Tories and Lib Dems to pass this almost completely unopposed. I say almost, the SNP and Plaid Cymru did vote against it however without Labour support it was doomed to failure. Labour will bleat that they voted against parts of the bill earlier in the process but the records show that when the last vote took place NO Labour MP voted against it. I have no idea why. Our local MP Pamela Nash should be aware that Airdrie is within the zone where these licences are being handed out and should have voted against this for the good of the people of Airdrie and Shotts, even if it meant defying her party. That’s why she is elected is it not?
According to some sources Airdrie and indeed all of North Lanarkshire is in the ‘sweet spot’, a location likely to have a good yield and as such will attract companies looking to make a quick buck. I have to ask that if our local MPs in Airdrie and Coatbridge who are being paid to represent our safety do not stand up for our rights, then what is the likelihood that profit driven companies will? By the time the damage is done it is too late. You can’t unpollute the water table, you can’t extract pollutants and toxins from the open air. The people living in Airdrie town centre may shrug their shoulders and say it’s not going to affect me, they are hardly going to frack in Whinhall or Gartlea are they? That may be true but they will be fracking in the open land around Airdrie, next to the villages like Plains and Caldercruix, Salsburgh and Chapelhall, Greengairs and Glenmavis. For public health reasons in Australia fracking is not permitted within 2km of any inhabited dwelling. Most houses in Airdrie, if not all are less than 2km from areas which may be suitable for this to take place. Reach Oil and Gas already have permission to drill a methane extraction hole within Cumbernauld town boundary and are looking into further a development in Shotts. The new legislation which was approved in December allows companies to drill from the side under your property and carry out the work that way, so you could find that living next to a suitable site means living on top of one.
It would seem that our last hope in Scotland is the planning process which is controlled by North Lanarkshire Council. This extra hurdle is one which we need to ensure is high enough that it cannot be jumped. I am calling on all our elected representatives of all parties to back a petition to ensure that we follow Australia’s lead and do not allow the granting of permission for any fracking sites within 2km of any inhabited buildings. We elect our representatives to represent us
and regardless of what party they are from, our collective health and safety should come first.