I remain very concerned about recent developments regarding potential fracking sites in Barnsley.
The company IGAS has applied for fracking licenses under Royston, Staincross, and Carlton in the Barnsley Central constituency. This, along with the applications that have been made by Cuadrilla and other companies for licenses covering large parts of the Dearne valley, mean that a significant portion of Barnsley could soon be the site of fracking operations.
The Government has tried to argue the case for fracking for some time, but has failed to deliver any concrete guarantees that it would not adversely affect our environment or our commitment to tackling climate change. The reality is that extracting shale gas will not solve our long-term energy problems and could hamper our efforts to develop more sustainable and renewable forms of energy.
Many people have contacted me to express understandable concerns about the impact that these proposals could have on Barnsley. It is vital that local residents have their say. It is welcome that the company INEOS, that has applied for a license covering areas including Cudworth and Wombwell, has announced a programme of consultation. However, it is very important that the concerns of local residents are acted upon following this consultation.
Nationally, I continue to believe that there should be a moratorium on fracking until there is greater evidence available about the environmental impact. Studies conducted in the United States have suggested that fracking could lead to environmental damage through the polluting of water systems and other ecosystems. Without conclusive evidence that there would be no significant environmental impact, we should not be allowing companies to develop fracking operations under populated areas like Barnsley.
Alongside my colleague Michael Dugher, the Member of Parliament for Barnsley East, I will continue to raise my concerns about these proposals. It is vitally important that the Government listens to the legitimate concerns raised by people in Barnsley and across the country about the potential impact of fracking and reacts accordingly.