If true, today’s announcement about the likely withdrawal of iGas from fracking activity in Upton and Mickle Trafford is a big win for the City of Chester. It is a vindication of the efforts of the campaigners in Upton who have fought long and hard to protect our city and preserve our local environment. We owe them a debt of gratitude.
The big success of this campaign has been that it has put iGas and fracking under the microscope. I have made my position clear from day one; I do not support fracking, I think it poses significant risks to the environment and it is not a solution to the long term energy needs of our country.
Today is a victory for Frack Free Upton and for Labour Councillor Matt Bryan who has worked diligently on this issue. But we must remember that whilst we have won this battle, we have not yet won the war. Other exploratory licenses have been granted elsewhere in Cheshire West and we must fight every single one of them. I grew up in rural Cheshire so I know what is at stake. We must protect our environment and we must put the safety of our residents above everything else.
I will be asking serious questions about why iGas chose to discharge the eviction notice at Duttons Lane just a couple of weeks before this announcement. I have written to Cheshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner to ask him to send the invoice for this action to iGas directly. Council tax payers in Cheshire West and Chester should not be picking up the bill for this blatant disregard for public finances – especially at a time when this government is already slashing funding for our council by £57.3 million.
Today’s announcement is good news and tonight we must celebrate it - but tomorrow we fight on.