Green Party leader insists on fracking halt on visit to county

Plans for fracking in Shropshire should be scrapped immediately, the leader of the Green Party has said on a visit to the county. 

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett

Natalie Bennett made her comments after former Environment Secretary and North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson, known for his pro-fracking views, had said: "Europe risks condemning itself to oblivion as global manufacturer if it does not embrace fracking. UK must get a move on."

He later made it clear that any drilling, whether to search for coal-bed methane or for shale gas, had to follow strict regulations.

Dart Energy wants to test-drill to see if coal-bed methane lies under land at Dudleston Heath.

Ms Bennett said that no case had been constructed for fracking in Shropshire.

"There are any number of reasons – things like the impact on the local environment, the multiple heavy vehicle movements, the consumption of water and the high risk of contamination of aquifers," she said.

"The Government is deluded if it thinks that fracking is the way ahead. France and Germany are among a number of countries that have banned it, yet for some reason the Government thinks that it can swim against the tide because it thinks that it knows best.

"Even the boss of fracking company Cuadrilla, Lord Browne, has said fracking would not reduce British prices."

Ms Bennett also said that plans to link windfarms to the national electricity network should go underground "wherever possible".

The Government has been asked to intervene in a bid to prevent a 33-mile power line from Cefn Coch in Mid Wales to Lower Frankton, near Ellesmere, from being built.

"It's difficult to comment on individual cases, but they should only be sited in the right places and, where possible, they should look at putting them underground," said Ms Bennett.

On a two-day visit to the county, Ms Bennett said that there is a place for wind and solar farms in Shropshire and stated that the party would be looking to claim its first council seat in the county in the 2017 local elections.

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