York councillors have voted to send “a clear message” to the government about their opposition to fracking.
They voted unanimously for a motion which said fracking “poses unacceptable risks to people, livestock, wildlife, the climate and the environment” and will write to the Prime Minister to highlight their objection to the practice.
Under outgoing Prime Minister Liz Truss, the government lifted the ban on fracking, which involves drilling into the earth and directing a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals in order to release the gas inside.
During the Conservative Party leadership contest over the summer, the now-incoming Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also said he was in favour of allowing drilling for shale gas to go ahead if local communities support it.
Chemical company Ineos holds petroleum exploration and development licences for areas in and around York and Ryedale and it could seek permission to frack in these areas.
Cllr Tony Fisher proposed the Liberal Democrat motion on fracking. He’s a veteran campaigner against the practice in and around his Strensall ward.
He said: “Gas released by fracking will not be available for several years; there is no proof that that viable amounts of gas can be produced; fracking requires the building of large, unsightly industrial wellheads in the countryside and it generates small earthquakes.”
19th century solution
Cllr Jonny Crawshaw, Labour, said: “This is a 19th century solution to 21st century difficulties and problems. There is no way we should be looking at anything that sees an expansion of any form of burning carbon or fossil fuels.”
At the beginning of the year, councillors approved a plan which introduced a buffer zone in York and North Yorkshire to protect residential properties in the event of fracking going ahead.
Cllr Christin Vassie said: “We need to move on from the fossil fuel age.
“If we want energy from the ground, then let’s make use of geothermal energy under the north Selby mine site.”
An amendment to the motion by the Conservative group sought to introduce a clause about keeping decisions on fracking within the power of councillors, subject to local referendums, but this was rejected.
Tory leader Cllr Paul Doughty and fellow Conservative Cllr Martin Rowley said the amendment was aimed at strengthening the motion, but most councillors disagreed.
Green group leader and council deputy leader Cllr Andy D’Agorne said: “Fracking is unacceptable, regardless of whatever bribes might be offered to a local community.”