Just when campaigners thought fracking company IGas had left Salford and Barton Moss after bitter protests during 2013/14, Government documents reveal that the company could be back, with its new partner INEOS, to begin fracking in 2021.
Documents submitted to the Government's Oil and Gas Authority, as part of its Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDL) commitments show that, for PEDL193 area, which includes Barton Moss, Warrington, Salford, Trafford and Wigan, IGas will "Acquire new seismic data by 30 June 2018, submit planning application to drill a well by 30 June 2020, and drill, hydraulically fracture and flow test a well by 30 June 2021..."
Today, anti-fracking campaigners were furious, calling on Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, to publicly oppose any attempt to frack Salford...
"The cost of this industry is too high" said Jenny Ross of Frack Free Greater Manchester "The Government may be ignoring the wake up call, but the people of Salford will not. If they won't lock the gate on this industry then we will. The people of Salford said `No' to this industry. We meant `No!'. And it's time Paul Dennett gave that response his full backing."
Greater Manchester Labour Party candidate Andy Burnham MP has already made a statement opposing fracking in the region...
"My position would be to recommend a Greater Manchester-wide presumption of opposition to fracking unless and until the evidence changes" he told the Salford Star "I have seen how states in the US such as New York have taken a stance against fracking and I think Greater Manchester should do the same.
"As Mayor, my focus would be on building the jobs of the future rather than the past" he added "Fracking for fossil fuels seems to me to belong to the last century, not this one, and does not produce the quality jobs in the numbers that some have claimed. Instead, I want a Greater Manchester that is building the future and leading the way on renewable energy. That is where our focus should lie." (see here)
Paul Dennett is not only Salford City Mayor but also has the portfolio amongst Greater Manchester council leaders for the Environment. In private he has stated that he is opposed to fracking but has not made any statement in public since being elected*. Meanwhile, both Bolton and Bury Council have passed motions to prohibit fracking on their land (see previous Salford Star article – click here)
Salford councillors, including Dennett and the previous Salford Mayor, Ian Stewart, brought shame on the city by never once attending the Barton Moss anti-fracking protests to see at first hand the `political policing', including the aggressive treatment of local people by Greater Manchester Police in what became known as The Battle of Barton Moss. The vast majority of those arrested at the protest have subsequently been found not guilty (see here).
Now, within four years, Salford could be set for The Battle of Barton Moss Part 2. And campaigners are waiting to see which side their elected politicians will be sitting on this time...
* Salford Mayor Paul Dennett doesn't respond to Salford Star requests for comments and interviews so we can't ask him directly for his views.
For lots more details on fracking licences throughout the country and links to interactive maps see the excellent Drill or Drop website – click here
On Saturday, September 24th (10am-5pm) Friends of the Earth and Frack Free Greater Manchester are hosting a Unite Against Fracking free day of workshops for anti-fracking groups and activists.
Amongst the issues to be addressed are `How to respond to planning applications'; `The media and fighting fracking' and `Getting your councillors to oppose fracking'. For more details see the Unite Against Fracking Facebook event page – click here
Main photo by Steven Speed