Fracking – a battle won but a war still to win

It was great to get a phone call on Tuesday from Louise ‘Erin Brockovich’ Evans (theValeSaysNo.com) to tell me that Coastal Oil & Gas have withdrawn their application for test drilling at Llandow. This is fantastic news for the Evans family. The proposals threatened to ruin their livelihoods and to have a huge impact on the Llandow Trading Estate and surrounding areas. For many who so passionately supported the local campaignthis is probably seen as the end of the road. After the huge impact this campaign has hadit is quite likely that the frackers will steer well clear of Llandow altogether in future. Job done for the nimby brigade.The really good news is that the people close to the the Llandow campaign have done sufficient research and groundwork to know that this really is not the end of the storyjust the end of a chapter.

We know from what we have seen in Bridgend CBC that the frackers will be back. I never thought that Centrica pulling out of Bridgend CBC was the end. New applications will pop up at any time and almost any place. We have seen it happen. After the huge own goal at Llandowthey will certainly stick to the tried and tested strategy of finding remotetucked out of sight places from now on.

It was no surprise to me that Coastal Oil & Gas and their partnersEden Energydecided to pull the application. There was the very real risk that the public outcry we helped produce may have led VoG to make a landmark decision to deny the planning application at Llandow. They could not risk that. The rest of the industry would have been appalled that they were clumsy enough to give scope for this to happen.

We are left with a situation of no precedent for turning down test drilling applications and local authorities in BridgendNeath Port Talbot and Swansea with a track record of quietly processing and approving these applications.

So where do we go from here?
 
I am delighted that the people behind TheValeSaysNo are intending to carry on the fight.
 
I believe we have to continue to push hard for a nationwide moratorium and a change of planning procedures for such proposals. We have the attention of some elected representatives, to which we can hopefully add the vital dimension of an elected Green to the WAG, Jake Griffiths,  in May. We also have the attention of the local and regional media to a degree. We must keep momentum up on these fronts.
 
We have raised public awareness considerably and to a point that, if and when phase 2 and phase 3 applications, that involve actual fracking, come about, I think we will be able to really mobilise local opposition.
 
We also need to think about fostering links with other anti-fracking groups. We know where the frackers are going to target in the UK. We know of opposition movements in numerous countries in Europe and around the world.
 
My own knowledge and awareness keeps developing all the time. I have new legal avenues to explore that have the potential to put a real spanner in the works of the frackers. We are slowly uncovering the network of links between the companies involved and their levels of investment. We are picking up valuable snippets of insight into things like noise levels and frack fluid composition. We are regularly adding to the portfolio of evidence that demolishes just about every attempt by the frackers to put a positive spin on their endeavors.
 
I am confident that we now have a group of people with the will, the knowledge and the tools to see this through and keep the frackers from raping the land for short term gain at the expense of immediate and long term environmental damage and short-sighted energy policy.

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