Thank you for contacting me regarding fracking in Harthill and Woodsetts. This has obviously caused a huge amount of worry in the local community for both villages. I have attended numerous meetings regarding this topic over the past few months to engage in open discussion with local residents about their concerns. I will continue to do this and I will also be facilitating meetings between residents' representatives and agencies, so that residents can be fully informed of the most recent research on this issue. Just next week I have a meeting between the campaign groups and the Coal Authority who will explain their regulatory position. I was elected on a manifesto pledge to stop fracking and will continue to support my constituents on this issue.
Whilst I disagree with their plans I feel it is necessary to keep an open line of dialogue with INEOS to ensure that I have the best available information about what is happening on the sites in Harthill and Woodsetts. INEOS need to do more to engage with the local community. It is not acceptable for people to be in the dark about plans that will affect their lives. It was outrageous that the first time many people in Woodsetts knew about the plan was when court ordered injunction notices were posted around the village. I raised this issue both publically and privately with INEOS and they have pledged that this kind of incident will never happen again.
In the last Parliament the Opposition tabled an amendment to the 2015 Infrastructure Bill that would have ensured that fracking could not take place until 13 environmental safeguards were in place. Unfortunately, the Coalition Government, after initially accepting these safeguards, rowed back on its commitment to them. Furthermore, regulations on fracking that the current Government has introduced fail to provide critical environmental protections. In my view, the Government is ignoring people's legitimate concerns.
I know that many campaigners have been attending my constituency surgeries but would ask that we, instead, arrange a separate community meeting. My surgeries on a Friday are for individual constituents with single issues and some have been intimidated about coming to the surgeries due to worries about crowds of people being there. I will liaise with the representatives of the campaign groups to arrange a suitable date and location for these meetings.
Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your views. I can assure you I will continue to monitor developments on this issue and to press the Government to listen to genuine and widely held concerns about fracking. I fully understand that these plans are causing a huge amount of worry for people in the two villages affected and I will be doing all I can to try and alleviate some of that worry.
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