“Don’t blight the land that feeds you”

“Don’t blight the land that feeds you” – A response from Saltford Environment Group

The need to address climate change and energy security arising from our over-dependence on carbon-based fossil fuels is increasingly understood. This is why we need to invest in safe and sustainable renewable energy sources rather than the short-sighted approach of pursuing carbon fuels; especially where production carries contamination risks to land and groundwater that would be extremely difficult to rectify.

There is therefore growing concern in the community about the proposed planning application for the extraction of Coal Bed Methane (CBM) at Hicks Gate. The site is next to farm land and recreational space enjoyed by many residents whilst the close proximity to the River Avon means there are serious implications for wildlife and tourism over a much wider area. Furthermore the site is next to major road and rail transport routes.

What guarantees are there that the Environment Agency and Health & Safety Executive can secure full control of the risks against a background of public spending cuts? Who will pay for full and proper regulation, UK Methane Ltd or the tax payer? Who will fully underwrite the risks?

The benefits of CBM development occur in the immediate and near future, while the costs are spread over several generations. The economic benefits from CBM are overwhelmingly concentrated on the companies that develop the gas rather than the local community facing the major risks. Few if any local jobs would be created whereas renewable energy can and does have a much more beneficial effect on jobs. In the South West 10,000 people are now employed in the renewable energy sector (source: RegenSW – 2012 Annual Survey). That is where the future employment in energy lies, not in the out-dated approach of exploiting fossil fuels regardless of the consequences.

In the words of Bill McKibben “You can have a healthy fossil-fuel balance sheet, or a relatively healthy planet.” CBM? No thanks!

BEN EVE & PHIL HARDING – Saltford Environment Group

Posted on: September 21, 2012