Sunday, 25 August 2013

Lib Dems & Fracking - Having It Both Ways

The fracking controversy in the UK is driven by one key factor - after some years of refusal or at least prevaricating on a decision, late last year the Government decided to permit it to go ahead, and it has increasingly featured as a key component of planning for future enrgy supplies. As blogged before, the Coalition's claim to seek to be the "greenest Government in history" has long since fallen by the wayside as it cut the renewable energy feed-in tariff and virtually abolished community-owned clean energy schemes. Using vast quantities of water to force shale gas and oil out of the ground beneath our feet has become a major objective of Government energy policy as we follow the United States in seeking out yet more carbon fuel, seemingly oblivious to the environmental impact.

To date, the only significant UK-wide political party to oppose fracking has been the Greens - the Green MP, Caroline Lucas, was arrested for blocking the road during a peaceful protest at the Balcombe test site earlier this week. Green leader, Natalie Bennett, has also spoken at the site and Greens across the country have been involved in arguing against fracking. By contrast, with a few, largely self-interested local exceptions, Tories, Labour and UKIP have welcomed the process, awed by the massive development of it in the USA and dismissive of the impact of both extraction and use of yet more global warming gases.

And as for the once supposedly "greener-than-the-Greens" Liberal Democrats?

Well, today, as a poll shows massive public opposition to fracking (with three times as many preferring wind farms to those supporting fracking), the Lib Dems have finally issued a statement condemning fracking. It turns out that, although they are part of the Coalition, they are opposed to this particular policy.

Now, at least. They didn't say anything earlier, perhaps waiting to see which way the wind blew in terms of popular opinion.

As for tomorrow, who knows where they will stand? Presumably, we will get a clearer idea of what they actually think after they have expelled the Energy Secretary Ed Davey from their party. After all, it was Mr Ed (Lib Dem) who gave the go-ahead for fracking, just as his predecessor, Chris Huhne (Lib Dem), approved new nuclear power stations after years of saying they didn't work, were too expensive and too dangerous. Mr Davey sees fracking as "useful" and thinks it it is "fantastic for energy security...and the climate." Although he has said the environment should be protected, it isn't clear how and he has signed up to trying to bribe local communities with a share of fracking revenues to try to stymie opposition.

What, they aren't going to expel Mr Davey? And they're not going to change the Government's policy? No, because, in spite of the rhetoric, the Lib Dems continue to support "limited" fracking - but of course, do nothing to explain what limited means. Watch this space, depending on where you are in the country.

Surely the Lib Dems aren't trying to have it both ways by pretending to be in Government and in Opposition at the same time?


  1. Suspect the Lib Dems are more looking to save MPs in the general election of 2015 than save local communities from fracking in 2013

  2. ...or could it be just as the GPEW has people both in favour and opposed to nuclear power, individual Liberal Democrats have different opinions. Cllr Pepper has been on the frontline opposing fracking.