Jon Dale, Mansfield Socialist Party
The movement against fracking is growing across north Derbyshire, South Yorkshire and north Nottinghamshire.
These former mining areas have been targeted by Ineos, the giant chemical company. It has been awarded licenses to explore for shale oil and now has machinery carrying out seismic surveys in fields near towns and villages.
This involves drilling holes and setting off explosive charges below ground to measure sound waves travelling back from the rocks below.
With this information, Ineos will decide where to site its fracking rigs, which will bring noise, heavy traffic and environmental pollution. The underground aquifer supplying the whole area with water is at risk.
Ineos has been allowed to bypass planning procedures with elected councillors, going instead directly to the government. The limited democratic controls that do exist are being brushed aside, as allowed by rules the government passed in 2015.
Anti-fracking groups are being set up in many ex-mining towns and villages. Bright yellow ‘Fracking No Way’ posters are in many shops and houses. 160 people attended a meeting called by the campaign in Bolsover.
One person not supporting local campaigns is former North East Derbyshire Labour MP Natascha Engel, who lost her seat in June to an anti-fracking Tory (in his constituency, not in principle!). As well as Engel’s Blairite record, a factor in her defeat was her defending fracking.
She has now taken this a step further and is being paid by Ineos to write a booklet that will “explain shale exploration and development,” according to Ineos. It will also explain more about “combating climate change, energy needs, and the positive impact on jobs, training, industry and community benefits.”
Ineos is owned by billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, who spends much time on his 78-metre luxury yacht. Ineos should be nationalised, along with the gas and electricity industries so that sustainable energy production can be democratically planned instead of being run for profit.