Letter: Policy does not match rhetoric

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At the beginning of this year Duncan Crow told us that 2017 was our greenest ever year for electricity, proudly proclaiming that on the 7th June, wind and solar power were all generating more than both gas and coal for the first time ever.

He went on to say “Local Councils, ‘are making big strides in greener energy production and is something ‘we should all welcome and encourage.” Then why was he happy to chair a Planning Committee application meeting at County Hall and for the Tory top heavy group (Shame on you Brian Quinn to turn your back on Labour policy) to rubber stamp Cuadrilla’s return to Balcombe? Hasn’t Theresa May already said; “Clean growth is not an option but a duty we owe to the next generation”?

Then again Tory rhetoric, which Duncan Crow seems to have been tasked to preach to us here in Crawley, rarely indicates what they will enact. Clearly the whole exercise at County Hall was regarded to be a mere formality, it was going to ignore over 2,700 objections to the application. In fact Cuadrilla’s representative was their Director of Government and Public Affairs, not a technical representative and the committee themselves seemed unprepared for any challenging questions.

One councillor seemed unaware the site flare could be loud enough to drown out the sound of trains on the adjacent line, thus for Balcombe residents wishing to sleep, leaving the bedroom window open was therefore impossible. Not that they would want to, with the possibility of being in the pathway of toxic emissions. Especially as Planning Manager, Jane Moseley said that it would have to be assumed that the Environment Agency would do its job to monitor emissions. What a frightening assumption. Jane Moseley later went on to say “there never is public consultation on the condition of discharges” and shortly afterwards “the level of detail that is required in these conditions is such that we wouldn’t expect members of the public would understand”.

Excuse me! Please, just speak for yourself. Don’t underestimate the intelligence and diligence of people, who care deeply for our environment and future. More diligent than our council who were elected to protect the interests of citizens.

A counter argument posed, which rested on the foundations of; Oh it’ll be alright, objectors are just hysterical, naive and are obstructing urgently needed steps required to address the country’s economy, and our need for energy sovereignty.

Unfortunately the industry has already admitted that any oil and gas it finds will be sold to the highest bidder on the world market. Please, don’t kid yourself, the industry doesn’t regard itself as a servant to our nation. Only itself.

How scandalous our County Council undemocratically and unwisely ignores facts presented by citizens and is cowed by the downward pressure from this hypocritical Government.

For those wanting facts rather than rhetoric, look to the 200 page compendium compiled by the Physicians For Social Responsibility, available on the web, drawing on a decade of the experience of unconventional gas and oil extraction in the US. It backs up the fears of the 2,730 objectors.

Derek Hardman, Southgate