MORE than a thousand people have signed a petition against fracking in York and pleaded with the city council to take a stand against shale gas extraction around the city.
The petition with more than 1,400 signatures, including 200 collected during the Tour de France celebrations, was presented to a full meeting of City of York Council in the Guildhall last night, after speeches by campaigners who urged the council do all they can to stop fracking coming to York.
Representatives of campaign group Frack Free York and Friends of the Earth spoke in the meeting to voice their fears and urge action from the council.
Richard Lane of York and Ryedale’s Friends of the Earth groups said: “The rights to explore in the area have already been sold, so you may say there’s nothing we can do but that is not good enough.
“Councils in Preston and across the country have already declared themselves frack free and York council would be following a well trodden path in taking a stand against fracking.
“If you think York is worth protecting, you will not be alone. Please add your voices to this fight against the last gasp of the fossil fuel industry.”
Retired engineer Chris Rainger also spoke to the council of his fears about the fracking process.
He said that like nuclear power, the fracking process is not fully understood, and unlike the USA the UK does not have the space to allow land to be damaged by fracking.
Councillors also spoke in the debate over fracking, with council leader James Alexander spoke of the restraints national planning law puts on the council’s ability to make a meaningful stand against shale has extraction.
But others, such as Cllr Joe Watt and labour cabinet member Dafydd Williams, sounded a note of caution against the anti fracking voices.
Cllr Watt said he believed scientific evidence, rather than fear and scaremongering, should be used in assessing the practice of fracking.
He added that this country will keep using fossil fuels for a number of years, and measures which reduce the UK’s reliance on Russian and middle eastern oil should be welcomed.
Green councillors Dave Taylor and Andy D’Agorne spoke of their objections to the practice, and said that despite the constraints of national law there were actions the council could take, through the upcoming local plan, to declare a long term moratorium on fracking or implement a presumption against fracking.
The council also heard from people concerned about development plans for their areas.
Three different petitions, from Woodthorpe and Acomb Green, Earswick and Strensall were presented on behalf of residents who want to see greenbelt areas in their wards saved from development under the Local Plan, while others called for residents’ parking zones, a 20 mph zone and action to tackle anti-social behaviour and improve public services.