Fracking, the practice of firing high-pressure jets of toxic chemicals into the earth to release shale gas, is not popular in Britain. Less than a quarter of the population supports the idea, and even fewer would back fracking in their local area. But the government wants to open the country up for drilling and together with the fossil fuel industry, is determined to get its way.
To oil the wheels of the fracking bandwagon, ministers have resorted to various schemes. They’ve offered tax breaks to cash-strapped councils in return for approving projects, buried changes to land rights in obscure legislation, created legal requirements to dig up fossil fuels, and dismissed concerns over everything from health to house-prices as the ramblings of cranks and nimbys. Taken together, it resembles less an energy policy and more an all-out assault on the will of the people.
Last month, MPs approved the Infrastructure Bill, a mammoth piece of legislation that covers everything from road building to tackling invasive plant species. Buried in its depths are hastily drafted provisions that enshrine in law the right of fracking companies to drill under private property against the will of the owner, despite a consultation finding 99% of the public opposed the change.
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