No matter how you look at it, fracking as a large-scale endeavour for the UK seems pretty screwed.
The finances of frackers are creaking. Local councils are simply refusing to roll over in the face of the industry’s bully-boy tactics. Shale is getting more and more toxic, as MPs and the public turn against it. The Government doesn’t talk about it any more, and behind the scenes has massively lowered its expectations of how much fracking it thinks we’re going to get. It’s only going to get harder and harder for national politicians to claim that it’s somehow in the national interest.
If I were a would-be fracker, I’d be playing very, very nice right now. But despite it all, they’re not…
Earlier this month Derbyshire County Council’s planning committee overwhelmingly voted (9-1) to oppose INEOS’s proposals to test-frack near Eckington, not far from Sheffield. The significant thing wasn’t the scale of their opposition, but the strength of their fury. INEOS is throwing all it has at trying to force its rigs onto a community that demonstrably doesn’t want it, most perniciously going over the council’s head to secure a national planning inquiry.
The council, refusing to be silenced, gave its views on the plans anyway. These views were: go away. Councillors were seriously pissed off. The chair of the Committee took the time to specifically accuse INEOS of acting “disgracefully” in attempting to trample over local democracy.
While the fight isn’t over – the national inquiry is still going ahead – INEOS now has to contend with the council’s continued formal opposition. That’s a massive win for Eckington Against Fracking and its many local supporters.
Did INEOS take all this gracefully, chastened by the reaction to its behaviour? Did it ‘eck. Its CEO slammed the “confused” council as being “led by politics” (isn’t that kind of the point?), darkly hinting that councillors are unwise to take on the “costly” public inquiry. That’s right. A company that desperately needs the tide of opinion to turn in its favour sharpish chooses instead to go to war with elected representatives for daring to stand up to them. Then again, this is the same company that’s taking legal action against the National Trust against its refusal to let it conduct seismic surveys under its land.'
Read more: Why Fracking In The UK Is In Big Trouble