City region’s move deals blow to industry amid wider discontent in regions
Greater Manchester will effectively ban fracking as part of its effort to become carbon neutral by 2038, in a setback for the controversial industry.
The region’s mayor, Andy Burnham, said the combined authority would put planning measures in place that create “a presumption” against fracking for shale gas.
“It’s about embracing the future, not the past. Cities like Greater Manchester need to join the group of leading cities on the world stage that are driving fast towards carbon neutrality,” Burnham told the Guardian.
“That is a big challenge and it must be embraced wholeheartedly and it means a full commitment to renewable energy and not half measures and not clinging on to processes that hark back to a past.”
London is finalising a similar scheme and Manchester’s announcement, which comes into force on Monday, comes amid a wave of discontent among local councils – including Tory controlled authorities – which experts warn could kill off the government’s plans.
Burnham said council leaders had looked at what happened in nearby Lancashire, where fracking started in October at Preston New Road near Blackpool against the will of the local authority following a government intervention.
The energy firm Cuadrilla was forced to pause operations three times in the run-up to Christmas after drilling caused small earthquakes that breached legal limits.
“For the legal limits to be breached so regularly is a worry, isn’t it?” Burnham said. “It’s hard to know what damage is being done and the effect that is having on groundwater and all of those other issues that emerge.
“It’s even more worrying in Greater Manchester, which is a much more urban place, where there is more contaminated land, more mineshafts. This is an industry which hasn’t proven its case. In fact the opposite.”'
Read more: Greater Manchester tells fracking firms they are not welcome