Many people have contacted me regarding the recent decision to grant fracking licenses in the Barnsley area. Although the site in question, which covers part of the Dearne Valley, is not in my constituency of Barnsley Central, I am still very concerned about the potential impact on the environment of the local area and the community. I appreciate people taking the time to raise this important matter with me, as it is always very useful to receive information from constituents so that I am best placed to raise their concerns in Parliament.
I have always been clear that I have very serious concerns regarding the safety and sustainability of extracting shale gas as an energy source. The Environmental Protection Agency in the United States recently conducted a study that confirmed that fracking could lead to environmental damage including contaminated water through the pollution of drinking water supplies and other ecosystems.
The news that the Government has awarded energy companies new licenses to explore for oil and gas in the Barnsley area is deeply troubling. It is clear that the Government is determined to press ahead with shale gas development despite all the concerns that have been raised about the potential environmental impact. Once again, it seems that the North of England is a particular target for this Government.
The Government has attempted to make the case for the benefits of shale gas extraction, but we cannot risk significant damage to our environment or to jeopardise our climate change commitments.
I therefore believe that there should be a moratorium on fracking, both in Barnsley and across the country. There needs to be much clearer evidence on the environmental impact of fracking before the Government should award any contracts to companies. There needs to be strong scientific evidence that the process is safe.
As the proposed fracking sight covers a large part of his constituency, my fellow Barnsley MP, Michael Dugher, has written to the Environment Secretary to make the case for a moratorium on fracking. I fully support this course of action and it is to be hoped that the Government will listen carefully to the views of people in Barnsley and across the country and react accordingly.
I will raise this issue in Parliament when it reconvenes on 7 September in order to voice the very serious concerns that I have about these proposals.