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No fast tracking for fracking – William Powell AM

November 23, 2011 6:00 PM
Originally published by William Powell

William Powell AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, reacts to today's Westminster debate by demonstrating his concern about shale gas exploitation (fracking) and his support of renewable solar energy feed-in-tariffs (FITs).

Responding to comments from London, William Powell AM calls on the UK Government to reconsider their solar FITs proposals so they adequately reflect the need for the UK to protect its long-term sustainable energy future, while also raising concerns about that Government's growing interest in fracking.

William Powell, Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, said:

"I am extremely concerned with the UK Government's growing interest in the exploitation of shale gas deposits through a process known as fracking, at the expense of renewable energy alternatives. Fracking, which works by fracturing bedrock with a high pressured chemical fluid, has been linked to serious health issues and unsafe drinking water across the United States, and has even been connected to earth tremors here in the UK."

"It is worrying that the UK Government is pursuing fracking with such interest, at the same time that it is openly undermining its own consultation on the highly successful solar energy FITs scheme, thus jeopardising thousands of jobs across the UK and making a mockery of its alleged green agenda."

"The proposed changes, which see payments to customers drastically reduced with only weeks of warning, have the potential to devastate the UK's solar industry and leave families and local authorities with long-term deficits. To think that this is happening while potentially harmful options like fracking are receiving such attention is deeply concerning. Put simply it is wrong and it endangers both our long-term energy security and our sustainable future."

"With the reality of climate change pressing upon us, we must not allow our Governments - be they in London or in Cardiff - to continue down the road of exploiting damaging fossil fuel options such as fracking. With ever mounting evidence questioning its safety, it is clear, unless evidence is shown to the contrary, that this technology is not suitable for densely populated regions of the UK, or those which constitute our groundwater reserves."

"As such, I echo the calls from Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales Central, for the Welsh Government to finally clarify its position on fracking and offer assurances that it will not put the health of its citizens at risk."

"Furthermore, I am once again reiterating my unanswered concerns with the UK Government over their FITs proposals, and ask them to reconsider their actions before the damage is done. No one is claiming that the tariffs should remain unchanged, but I am calling for a reasonable and honest consultation. We need to follow the lead of nations like Germany and only step down tariff payments once the industry is strong enough to survive without such measures in place. Matching Germany in a single step simply will not achieve this."