Wiltshire Publications

Anti-fracking petition taken to Wiltshire Council

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A PETITIONcalling on Wiltshire Council to prohibit fracking in the county, signed by over 88,000 people, was presented at County Hall on Tuesday by members of campaign group Keep Wiltshire FrackFree.

The petition was started by Wiltshire campaigner Iona Hassan in conjunction with Keep Wiltshire Frack Free (KWIFF), which is organising public opposition to fossil fuel exploration in the county.

At 10am on Monday morning it had recorded 88,075 signatures from across Wiltshire, the UK, and worldwide. The petition was presented at a full council meeting on Tuesday 23rd February, just weeks after Westbury’s own group ‘Frack Free Westbury’ was formed.

Iona said, “Public safety is a primary duty of any council. Evidence shows that contamination of ground water and surface water are key challenges associated with unconventional oil or gas extraction (including fracking).

“We have asked that Wiltshire Council agrees an urgent moratorium [temporary ban] on any form of unconventional oil or gas extraction in Wiltshire, until the complete local assessment of the environmental impact, including noise, light and air pollution and the possible impact on Wiltshire’s aquifers and rivers, has been undertaken and the findings have been reported to the council and the general public.”

Anti-fracking campaigners sprang into action last year after it was revealed that a fuel company had been granted Government licences to explore for gas in West Wiltshire.

Areas that could be directly affected by the exploration include Westbury, Bratton and Dilton Marsh, as well as the surrounding area and towns including Trowbridge and Warminster.

Wiltshire Council said last year that it would not be likely to permit drilling in the county because it was concerned about environmental effects, and because it did not believe there to be a worthwhile amount of fuel.

However, it was revealed recently that the Government could be planning to introduce measures to override county councils’ planning departments, and give companies the power to drill without the permission of the local authority.

Jon Davies, a key member of KWIFF said, “I’m not surprised that the petition got so many signatures; the cause is growing locally and across the country. The same sorts of petitions have been run across the country in places like Lancashire and Wales.

“I think support for the anti-fracking cause is starting to grow locally as well as nationally, as more and more people realise that it might actually happen.”

Fracking, which involves pumping fluid into the ground to shatter rocks and release gas for extraction, has attracted widespread criticism from campaigners who claim that it can pollute water supplies and cause earthquakes.

Find out more at www.keepwiltshirefrackfree.org , or join Westbury’s own campaign group by searching ‘Frack Free Westbury’ on Facebook.

Frack Free Westbury will be holding its next public meeting at the Horse and Groom, Westbury, this Thursday 25th February, from 7.30pm.