LETTERS: Wakefield Council has the guts to be cautious about fracking

Anti-fracking protestors demonstrating outside county hall, Wakefield.
Anti-fracking protestors demonstrating outside county hall, Wakefield.

Coun Peter Box, Leader of Wakefield Council

I would like to respond to the letter from Andy Shaw about fracking (Express, January 20).

The robust debate at the meeting of full council, in February last year, resulted in a unanimous motion by Wakefield councillors calling for the government to reverse the policy of fast tracking applications.

We wanted to ensure the final say on planning applications for fracking are made by local councillors, representing the views of local residents across Wakefield.

The council motion called on the government to withdraw fracking exploratory licences until environmental and health concerns have been comprehensively addressed.

Councillors also agreed that any proposals to introduce fracking to the Wakefield district should only be done with local public support and once all safety concerns have been fully addressed.

I first shared my personal opinion on fracking with readers in my column in December 2015.

Back then, I said that I was not convinced by the arguments for fracking and this remains the same today.

I also asked residents to let me know their views on fracking and the majority of people who responded to this newspaper, or to me direct, made it very clear that they were firmly against it.

I fully share people’s desire for economic growth and jobs.

We work tirelessly with the private and public sector to help improve our local economy and create new opportunities for jobs.

But, we cannot support growth at any cost. We want to grow our economy but make sure that it benefits the district as a whole and this includes our environment.

So, let me reassure Mr Shaw, Wakefield is not ‘cow-towing to the scaremongers’. We have a considered approach that reflects the views of many, many residents.

And, until more is understood about the environmental safety issues we will have the guts to be cautious.