Labour’s Chris Matheson has accused local Conservatives of chaos over their policy on fracking, after a council meeting sensationally collapsed last night (Wednesday 28th April.)
Conservative councillors had “called in” the Labour policy on unconventional gas extraction, tabled as a Supplementary Planning Guidance document. The call-in was to give them a chance to challenge the document before the council’s overview and scrutiny committee at a meeting on Wednesday evening.
But the call-in was sensationally withdrawn seemingly when Conservative councillors found City MP Chris Matheson – Labour’s candidate in the forthcoming election - had attended the meeting to speak in favour of the new policy and against fracking. The meeting was closed as soon as it began.
Chris Matheson said:
“The Conservatives are in chaos over fracking yet again. This call-in was nothing more than an attempt to derail the council’s proposal for supplementary planning guidance on fracking because the Conservatives want to frack in Cheshire West and Cheshire. They want to frack in the countryside around Upton, Mickle Trafford, and Guilden Sutton.
This call-in was designed simply to delay the implementation of the policy or even to sabotage it altogether. Its aim was clear – to derail objections and facilitate fracking here.
But I believe when they saw me ready to speak, they caved in, ran away from debate and withdrew the objections. So once again it is me and Labour standing up for the community to thwart Tory attempts to frack.
Fracking hasn’t happened yet in Chester but there is a reason for that. It is because of the political opposition I have led with colleagues in Parliament and locally, and it is because of the overwhelming and active opposition of residents locally including local environmental campaign groups.
The Conservatives just cannot give up on their love affair with fracking. When in control of the council they allowed 10 exploration permissions across the borough and passed a 25 year production permission in Ellesmere Port. Indeed it is only a couple of years since a leading member of the local Conservatives spoke at the Shale Gas World conference to invite and welcome the industry to Cheshire.
Give the Tories an inch and they will allow fracking in Chester. I have stood firm against it these last two years and I shall be doing the same in the next Parliament.”