Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Lambeth Council has made no statement opposing fracking - despite claims

It has emerged today that claims Lambeth Council had made a statement/ had a position that it would not allow fracking in Streatham (or anywhere else in Lambeth) are untrue.

Lambeth Council Cabinet member Imogen Walker posted this tweet in response to the petition encouraging Lambeth to become a "no fracking zone" like Brent has done (this would mean that should anyone seek permission to conduct exploratory fracking in Lambeth, the council would have established what powers it had to prevent it - such as refusal of planning permission - and would have a formal policy of opposing it).

This is what Cllr Walker said:

Further to that, an article appeared in the South London Press (we can't find it online) saying that Lambeth had said "no" to fracking.

Streatham Labour Party also said that Lambeth Council had said "no" to fracking.

However, a Freedom of Information Request by a member of the public (who is not a member of any political party as far as I am aware) has revealed that in fact Lambeth has made no public statements about fracking at all. It has taken no legal advice. It has no policy, as many residents suspected.

This is important because London Mayor Boris Johnson has made his support for fracking under London clear, the Government is offering "bribes" (in the way of business rates) to local authorities to support fracking which will seem very attractive in tight financial times, and fracking is coming ever closer to Lambeth. It can take place in urban areas and the pressure will only grow with the looming energy crisis. A licence which would permit exploratory fracking covering the south part of Streatham has already been issued and there is currently a Government consultation underway to issue a licence covering the rest of Streatham (ends 28th March).

There are two possible responses. The first is for the council to bury its head in the sand and hope no one ever applies for planning permission for exploratory fracking anywhere in Lambeth. The second is to follow the lead of other London boroughs like Brent, make its position clear, and look at what powers it might have to stop it.

Quite why Lambeth Labour has got itself into such a mess about this is still unclear and it still has a lot of questions to answer. But it should now do the right thing and make sure it gets a policy in place to deal with whatever the future may bring.

The petition for Lambeth to declare itself a "no fracking zone" is almost at 1,000 signatures.

You can see if your address is covered by a licence which would permit fracking here.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Friday Fun: An apology to Streatham Conservatives

We feel we should apologise to Streatham Conservatives, who after seeing this picture, believed that fracking had begun on Streatham Common (see this tweet).

They have been discussing it excitedly on twitter.

However we can happily confirm there is in fact no fracking rig on the Common (although we should add that it would be visible from a 4 x 4 driving along the road by the side of the Common).

It is true that a Conservative Government has issued a licence which would permit exploratory fracking in the South of Streatham. It is also true that the Government is currently consulting on a licence that would cover the rest of Streatham. We are also aware that there is significant support among Conservatives for fracking locally. However, for this to happen several consents need to be obtained, including permission from Lambeth Council (which is why we have launched this petition asking Lambeth to identify the powers that it has in order to oppose it).

The original picture is of some of us standing on Streatham Common. But as Streatham Conservatives have now astutely deduced after trawling the internet, the fracking rig isn't actually there on the Common. It was added to illustrate the potential impact on the area in the event fracking went ahead.

We should point out that no other residents have been in touch to ask where the fracking rig is. Nevertheless, we understand that the absence of an actual rig on the Common will be a disappointment to Streatham Conservatives.

To cheer them up here are some other pictures we took while we were there at the Common a few weeks ago.

(More info on fracking and a link to the petition here)


(We also stopped by the new Leisure Centre opposite the Common to highlight the low pay of employees there where we bumped into council leader Lib Peck. Sadly, she didn't stick around for a photo).