Tag Archives: Fracking

Councillor Alan Beveridge’s Resignation from the SNP (Advertiser 23/02/15)

 Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir, 

I would like to wish Councillor Alan Beveridge all the very best after his resignation from the SNP recently. Anyone who knows Councillor Beveridge will testify that he has been a very active councillor and has been a great help to many families and on many local issues. In December 2014 I contacted all our local elected representatives asking them to give their support to a petition against fracking, to be submitted to North Lanarkshire Council. Councillor Beveridge was one of only two Airdrie councillors to respond to me and indeed was the only SNP councillor to do so. I am sure that had the SNP addressed his concerns he would have had no reason to leave the party, but it would appear that is not the case. It is their loss, as he has been the hardest working and most reliable SNP councillor I have had the pleasure of dealing with in many, many years. I’m sure that he will continue to work just as hard as an independent councillor. We could do with more like him. 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy,

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Post Referendum Letters: 22/12/14

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,

Last week I wrote to the Advertiser trying to raise awareness of the issue of fracking, and I pointed out that sitting Labour MP Pamela Nash had failed to vote against the Infrastructure Bill which gave companies the right to frack under other peoples land without their permission. Ms Nash used her own Advertiser column to defend herself, claiming she had voted against it. In the real world Ms Nash voted not to allow the final part of the bill to be read, and her vote failed. The motion was then read and voted on, whereby she and every one of her Labour colleagues failed to register a vote of any kind. That is a matter of public record. Voting against a bit of a bill is not the same as voting against all of it.

Following publication of my letter I started a public petition put in place a ban on fracking within 2km of any inhabited dwelling . In addition to taking to the streets for public support I also emailed every councillor in North Lanarkshire to support my petition and to ask them to actively oppose any fracking application in the Airdrie and Coatbridge area. A few days later I learned that on 18th December there were two motions going before North Lanarkshire Council calling for a moratorium on fracking in North Lanarkshire.

Rather than commit to a ban on fracking in North Lanarkshire, the Labour Party united against the Greens, SNP and independent councillors, and instead voted to call on the Scottish Parliament to ban fracking instead. They voted for something they have no power over. North Lanarkshire Council had the chance to protect the people in this area and send out a message to other local authorities and to the Scottish Government. Instead it played politics and passed the hot potato back up to Holyrood. Jim Murphy, the new branch leader in Scotland has repeatedly called for more power to be devolved down to the councils, yet North Lanarkshire Labour are trying to devolve it back up. What do we pay them for exactly?

After the vote I was contacted by Labour Councillor Barry McCulloch in a reply to the email I had sent to all councillors. He wrote that “NLC decided on a moratorium on unconventional gas extraction at its meeting yesterday and called on the Scottish Government to do likewise. I made a contribution to the debate and made my opposition to fracking clear to the meeting.” This is an amazing email to have sent out, as it is patently untrue. NLC did NOT implement a moratorium on fracking yet I have a NLC councillor stating otherwise. As yet he has not replied to my email requesting clarification of this. There seems to be a culture embedded in the Labour Party that on contentious subjects you can make statements completely at odds with the record.

I also wrote to our elected representatives in Airdrie, Alex Neil MSP and Pamela Nash MP asking for their support in the petition. Alex Neil of the SNP replied that as Planning Minister he is not allowed to sign any petitions of this nature. As yet I have received no reply from Labour’s Pamela Nash. There are times when political differences must be put aside for the common good. The Labour Party’s unwillingness to support the SNP on any matter is putting our health and safety at risk here and now. It is time they picked up the teddy bear they threw in the corner when they lost Holyrood, grew up and started acting like the mature politicians they claim to be. 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy

 

Post Referendum Letters: 15/12/14 (Advertiser)

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,

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.  

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy

 

The Referendum Letters: 06/08/14

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,

This week Unionist politicians appeared in Glasgow to sign a pledge declaring that Scotland would be given more powers in the event of a No vote in the forthcoming referendum. One of the signatories was Nick Clegg who as many will recall, has form for signing pledges in public and acting differently when push comes to shove. It has already been stated by some Unionist politicians that the Scottish Parliament only operates because Westminster permits it to do so. They tell us what powers we can have, and what powers we cannot have. Sometimes they even sneak powers back under their own control.

In December 2013 the unelected House of Lords voted to remove the Scottish Parliament’s powers over renewable energy by way of amendment 54 to the Energy Act 2013. This gave the UK Government a free hand to completely bypass the Scottish Government and in July 2014 they announced a free for all on licences for fracking, something the Scottish Government was categorically against. Even our national parks weren’t kept off the target list. The Scottish Wild Land Core Map, which the Scottish Government had agreed to respect was bypassed at a stroke, and there isn’t a thing that can be done about it. While it was still to be seen if the Scottish Government would keep their word, there can be no doubt about what Westminster has done. It has stuck two fingers up to the people of Scotland, and said that if our legislation is a stumbling block to the UK national policy then they shall scrap it. We may have limited powers, so long as it suits Westminster, and when it no longer suits those powers will be taken back.

As someone who supports independence but opposes windfarms that concerns me greatly. With the Tories and the Lib-Dems both supporting “respectful fracking”, the Lib Dems and Labour supporting more wind turbines, and the Conservatives vowing to scrap onshore windfarms in future while supporting them today, it seems as clear as crystal that on examination there is absolutely no likelihood that a No vote in the independence referendum or a change of Scottish Government from the SNP with end the industrialisation of our wild places. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” is the order of the day where renewables is concerned.

I truly believe that the battle against windfarms has been lost. There are no doubt victories still to be had. Small windfarms with a good amount of reasonable objection, grounded in fact, can be defeated. I know this, because I have helped defeat such developments. But the larger developments, and these are generally the ones which occupy larger areas, are harder nuts to crack, and due to the sheer amount of money involved are likely to succeed. Should Scotland vote No in the forthcoming referendum it will be a signal to Westminster, not for more powers for Scotland, but to draw more power from Scotland. The National Planning Act which applies to England and Wales could quite easily be extended to cover Scotland. If we currently have any safeguards in Scotland against development they can be removed by Westminster to fall in line with those south of the border, and which will make a presumption in favour of large developments which are deemed in the national interest, the HS2 rail link being a case in point. Our own system is by no means perfect, but at least we had some mechanisms of protest, if not prevention. We need to protect this system just as strongly as we would like the wild land itself to be protected, and that will not be be done within a union that cannot be trusted to keep it’s word on which powers it permits us to have.

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy