Town council backs anti-fracking motion(September 22, 2015)
WARMINSTER Town Council has voiced its opposition to fracking by backing the motion submitted by Vision for Warminster's Steve Dancey and Paul Macdonald.
Both councillors spoke at the start of the debate with Steve summing up at the end.
The council voted 7 - 3 in favour of the motion. Cllr Pip Ridout abstained while two Conservative members were not present (Fraser and Macfarlane).
Steve said: "We were arguing that at present, in the Warminster context where we depend on underground supplies for our drinking water, it is too risky to allow fracking and was therefore unwelcome and not appropriate.
"It was worrying though that two county councillors, Keith Humpries and Andrew Davis, joined by George Jolley, seemed to be prepared to put the health of our essential water supplies at risk.
Independent councillor Jamie Cullen demanded a recorded vote. Councillor Andrew Davis agreed provided a reason for his opposition was noted
"For me fracking would need to be proved to be safe beyond any doubt before it could be allowed and at presnt I believe the balance of probabilities is that it poses a real danger to our wellbeing and the health of future generations," argued
"Government ministers may say otherwise but, like much of British industry governed by the stock exchange, they are short termists and can see no further than the next election."
Councillor Paul Macdonald delivered 'a passionate and urgent and well presented argument' said a watching member of the public.
The meeting held on Monday evening heard seven members of the public speak up on the issue.
Facts Not Fracks
"We believe that Warminster Town Council should take a view on the issue of fracking in the locality and its impact on the environment as we have been asked to do so," said the Independent Councillor Paul Macdonald.
"Facts first not Fracks"
"I first took an interest in this when Lord Bath sent that letter about him owning the right to everything underneath the ground to properties years ago."
Heads were nodding all around the council chamber as they remembered.
"So I ask for facts not fracks first" Paul demanded.
"Has fracking ever been done cleanly and safely anywhere in the world so close to population centres? We think not!" said Paul
"The facts we need to know are:
"How safe are the chemicals used for fracking?"
Councillors and members of the public waited as Paul looked at his notebook.
"Five of the chemicals that are used in fracking, hydraulic fracturing are still trade secrets in America."
A thumbs-up from a member of the public appeared as Paul posed questions.
"How safe are the aquifers from pollution from the extraction processes?
"How safe is our environment from spillage?
"How much water will be used for fracking? Is this sustainable?"
Again looking at his notebook the councillor said he was shocked that two to twenty million gallons of water areused per well-head according to independent research in America.
Local People Should Decide
"How will the ‘dirty water’ be cleaned? Will it be re-used?" argued Paul.
"Where will the pollution be stored or dumped?
"Will the oil companies have enough insurance to cover any mistakes?
"What monitoring will done? And by whom? And will it be independent?" asked Paul more stridently.
"Who will be responsible for the abandoned wells?
"Who will become responsible if a fracking company becomes insolvent?"
The councillor had gathered the attention of everyone in the room.
"What will be the increased heavy lorry movements? Is the infrastructure local suitable for this increase? Who will pay for the hidden costs?," Paul added to his questions on the threat of fracking as he saw it
"What will be the impact of fracking on tourism? What will be the impact of fracking on agriculture?
"What are the medical impacts of fracking?
"Will there be a ‘pre-fracking baseline measurement’ on all these issues?
"Is drilling for more fossil fuels going to add to the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere?
"We are of course going to be given assurances that near Warminster and in Wiltshire it will be safe.
"When all of these questions are satisfactorily answered then the risk can truly be measured.
"But crucially, then, and only then, it should be for the local people of Warminster and Wiltshire to decide"