Sheffield councillors are urging the Government to have a rethink on controversial plans to promote ‘fracking’ to help meet Britain’s energy needs.
Green Party councillors proposed a motion which has been backed by ruling Labour councillors criticising the Government’s offer of tax breaks for energy companies wanting to drill for shale gas.
Green Central Ward councillors Rob Murphy and Jillian Creasy called for efforts to be switched to promoting energy efficiency and green energy projects such as wind, solar and wave power.
The motion was passed, with an amendment by the Labour group which read: “This council believes it is completely irresponsible for the Government to be offering massive tax-cuts for fracking. The money should instead have been used to kickstart a major national retrofit scheme, which would reduce carbon emissions and bills and create thousands of green-collar jobs.”
The Green Party’s motion raised fears about the safety of ‘fracking’, which involves pumping water underground at high pressure to smash rocks and release shale gas.
Caudrilla, the first company given rights for shale gas extraction, recently abandoned drilling in a West Sussex village after a major protest at the site - although it was drilling for oil not gas.
Couns Murphy and Creasy said in their motion that it would be better to invest in saving energy and renewable energy which would help prevent dangerous climate change and create more jobs.
Copies of the motion will be sent to local MPs and government ministers and help to swell the nationwide campaign against fracking.
Coun Creasy said: “In practice, the council has little power to stop companies getting planning permission to drill in the Sheffield region, but we can send a clear message that they are not welcome.
“And we can join the campaign calling on politicians at national level to oppose fracking.”
Chancellor George Osborne said that communities where fracking is to occur will be offered a £100,000 incentive and one per cent of future revenues.
He said: “Of course, we want exploration of our shale resources to be safe, to avoid environmental damage, and for communities to benefit.”
■ A public meeting about a planning application for gas extraction by drilling company Alkane between Dark Lane and Top Road, Calow, near Chesterfield, is to be held on Tuesday from 7pm at Calow Primary School.