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Fracking may be coming to somewhere near you – without your permission

It is scarcely credible that the government is including in the Queen’s Speech on 4 June the right for the shale industry to drill on your land without your consent. Such a gross infringement of the rights of private property would be unthinkable, especially for a Tory government, were it not to secure a bonanza industry. Private land is inalienable – until it is wanted by the oil and gas industry, at which point private property rights get trampled on all over the place.

After heavy lobbying from the shale industry the government are changing the trespass laws so that companies can drill without permission in return for only minimal compensation to landowners. Following the demonstration at Balcombe in Sussex, this can be expected to become a focus for all-out resistance against the Tories, perhaps with a similar political impact to the poll tax riots which did for Thatcher. Already a nationwide network is operating across Britain, well organised and effectively connected via social media as well as by a shared passion overriding political divisions.

Shifting the law to suit business is not new. That is what the whole deregulation drive under free market capitalism in the last 30 years has been all about. Environmental, health and labour standards have all been honed down for precisely the same reason, to pave the way for highly profitable business. In the same way the agrochemical industry enabled genetically modified crops to take off in the 1990s by getting the US Congress to accept the utterly spurious doctrine of ‘substantial equivalence’ between GM products and their non-GM counterparts so that GM products did not need to be tested for their impact on the environment or human health and could be regarded as safe.

One unseen consequence however of this rush to drill, removing any obstacles in its path, could well be a surge in legal redress. A month ago a case was reported in the US where a Texas family who fell ill after fracking operations began near their home were awarded $3m in damages against Aruba Petroleum. There could be widespread ramifications since 15 million Americans live within a mile of a fracked well.

One of them, a 45-year old woman, initially experienced headaches, nausea and dizziness, but then later had a rash spreading across her body with open sores that wouldn’t heal. Her daughter suffered severe nose-bleeds, her husband developed memory problems, calves on their ranch were born malformed, and all their pets died. The jury concluded that the illnesses were linked to contaminated ground water, solid toxic waste and airborne chemicals generated by natural gas fracking operations. If fracking goes ahead as the UK government now recklessly intends, then what is happening in the US today to resist this curse can surely be expected to redouble in the UK in the near future.

2 Comments

  1. Mr jeffrey l davies says:

    if one searches online there are many cases of pollution from this without anything else but putting poisen into the ground could very well be our last act has of poisoning the water ways all for a fast buck which will give the average joe nowt but the clean up cost has these firms will not clean up aftyer themselves going bankrupt just like in the usa leaving it to the tax payer once again jeff3

  2. Gary Elsby says:

    To save time on what must be the worst Council in Great Britain look no further than Stoke-on-Trent’s Labour run authority.

    So far, the fracking business plan has spent around £500,000 with an intent to spend up to £21m of Council Tax on a public/private partnership.
    It has now collapsed (as every plan they have touched has) due to the real business case needing around £46m.
    In the meantime, they have been shutting care homes, libraries, swimming pools, community centres….etc…etc due to ‘austerity’ and lack of cash.

    The NEC of the Labour Party should return to Stoke-on-Trent, apologies to those of us that have tried to protect such vital services in the face of fanciful and un wanted business plans worthy of a vengeful Conservative Party.

    It is a joke what goes on here and my prediction is that all three ‘safe’ Labour seats will go and almost all Labour held council seats will be lost to Independents.

    Fracking is but just one nonsensical attempt to put people last and silly ideas first.

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