Last week I started a petition calling for Airdrie and Shotts councillors to actively oppose any fracking application, and to put in place a ban on fracking within 2km of any inhabited dwelling in the same area.
A few days later I learned that there were two motions going before North Lanarkshire Council calling for a moratorium (virtually a ban) on fracking in North Lanarkshire. I joined with many others online and wrote to every NLC councillor asking them to support these motions and asking them to sign my petition. Barely a handful replied.
The vote itself was hijacked and 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. North Lanarkshire had the chance to protect the people in this area and send out a message to other local authorities and the Scottish Government. Instead it played politics and passed the hot potato back up to Holyrood.
You can read into this what you you will. 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 decide on 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.
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.
Ms Nash used her column in the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser on 17th December to attack the SNP on fracking, while trying to pull the wool over constituents eyes about her own failure to vote against fracking on 8th December. There are some real big issues at risk here. The local environment is at risk. Health is at risk. Yet those with power to stop it, or even without power but with a responsibility to be seen trying to stop it, do nothing. Fudge, obfuscation, misdirection and in some cases outright lies. I’d love to know just why these tactics are being employed, but for now I’ll just have to be patient and keep pressuring our representatives to do the right thing.
In the meantime, I’ll keep watching the local press for applications for fracking related activities. Boreholes are a precursor to actual fracking. I’m told that unscrupulous companies try to slip their applications in over the festive season when the public are otherwise engaged. My eyes are peeled…