Thank you for contacting me recently regarding fracking.

I absolutely share your concerns about fracking and about the policing of fracking sites. I have campaigned against fracking since before I was elected in 2015 and am delighted that the Labour Policy is now unequivocal – the next Labour Government will ban fracking, no ifs, no buts.

But before we are elected, we need to fight against the Government’s brazen attacks on local democracy and their shameless stripping away of the rights of local people to protect their communities and their environment.

I do not support fracking for a number of reasons: health and safety; the potential for earth tremors; the likely pollution of the water table; the impact on local communities in terms of disruption and subsidence; the fact that the chemicals used are deleterious to our health.  But ultimately, we know that fracking contributes significantly to climate change and so, whilst all of the above means that fracking should absolutely not take place on an island as populated and as unconducive as ours, the evidence clearly shows that we should reject it outright.

That’s why I have consistently spoken out about it wherever and whenever I have the opportunity and I appreciate you adding your voice to the many of those who reject fracking here in South Yorkshire and across the country. As you may know, I spoke at a protest against Fracking on Saturday and you can listen to my speech here.

The fundamental problem with fracking is that it will lock us into an energy infrastructure based on fossil fuels long after we need to have moved to clean energy. As you may be aware, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has found that fracking is incompatible with the UK’s climate change targets, unless three tests – on methane leaks, overall gas consumption and keeping to our carbon budgets – are met. Unfortunately, after sitting on the CCC’s report for nearly 100 days the Government decided not to tighten or clarify existing legislation, nor to deliver security for our climate targets.

In my view, the Government is ignoring people’s legitimate concerns. I believe we should ban fracking and instead work towards transitioning our energy industry to create the vital jobs and apprenticeships we need for a low-carbon future. At a time when the Governor of the Bank of England is warning of risks to financial stability from a transformation of the global economy away from high-carbon sources, it is vital that investors and businesses get the signals they need about the direction of travel for the UK economy.

But instead of paying any heed to any of this, the Government has sought to weaken planning legislation and the rights of communities to have their say.

As concerned citizens have sought to raise their concerns, the Government has changed the law, has moved the goalposts, has empowered the wealthy and disenfranchised the many. So we must resist any changes that weaken our rights and strengthen theirs. We must ensure the right to peaceful protest is always protected and that our desperately over-stretched police are not dragged into a battle that is not theirs to fight. We must ensure that those who exercise their right to protest, and it is their right, are not criminalised.

Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your views. I can assure you I will continue to monitor developments on this issue and to press the Government to listen to genuine and widely held concerns about fracking.

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