Fracking row between council and Sheffield MP

Sheffield councillor Moya O'Rourke
Sheffield councillor Moya O'Rourke
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Sheffield councillors have unanimously spoken out against fracking - but there is strong criticism of a city MP who supports it.

There was widespread support for a motion by Labour councillor Moya O’Rourke who says people in her ward of East Ecclesfield are worried about the increasing risk that fracking could impact on the area.

But the Lib Dems criticised Penistone and Stocksbridge Labour MP Angela Smith - who represents East Ecclesfield and supports fracking.

Coun O’Rourke told full council: “We don’t know the numbers for Sheffield, but according to national polling, just 18 percent of Brits support fracking.

“Whilst there is clearly little or no appetite for fracking, there is overwhelming public support for pursuing renewable energy.

“I want to see a revolution in renewable energy, not more dirty fossil fuels. And I know that the vast majority of constituents in East Ecclesfield want this too.

“We have all heard about the technical problems with fracking and they give rise to real environmental dangers.

“Yet the real reason to ban fracking, as Labour have argued nationally for a number of years, is that fracking locks us into an energy infrastructure that is based on fossil fuels long after our country needs to have moved to clean energy.

“Communities throughout Sheffield are rightly worried and this is why this Labour council stated that we would not allow fracking on council land and would support communities to oppose any such measures on private land.”

But Lib Dem councillor Gail Smith said: “Here we have the local MP Angela Smith who says “there’s no reason to fear fracking”.

“This seems to be at odds with her Labour colleagues. The people of East Ecclesfield need to lobby their MP and tell her they don’t agree with her. Coun O’Rourke also needs to speak to her MP and come to some agreement on fracking.”

Angela Smith MP says shale gas extraction is not the answer to all our energy needs and there needs to be rigorous regulation.

She added: “Given that it was Lib Dem MPs Ed Davey and Vince Cable who, while in Government, set the parameters and issued the first licences for the extraction of gas using unconventional methods it is strange to hear Lib Dems now criticising a policy they once championed in government.

“It is clear that renewable energy is still in development and that for the foreseeable future the UK will continue to need gas if we are to heat our homes, cook our food and sustain our manufacturing base, which of course provides good, well paid employment for so many people.”