James’ letter to the Bury Times, 6th November 2019
In a bid to turn environmentally friendly heads, the Tory government finally acknowledged the damaging environmental impact of fracking and called an immediate halt to the practice. This stop is welcome, of course, but look beyond their rhetoric and this is a pause not a ban as they would have us believe. It is an election stunt, their ban on fracking will not be permanent but designed to distract and mislead. This news followed the outrage felt when the world learned the Tory HQ had appointed a leading fracking lobbyist to run their election campaign.
Fracking ignores local democracy, is bad for the environment, bad for our climate and keeps us reliant on fossil fuels. Those of us in Bury that have rejected fracking for many years have repeatedly spoken against fracking, voted against proposals allowing exploratory shale gas drilling to go ahead and most recently joined the global climate demonstration where I addressed Bury’s meeting. If the government are serious about saving our environment, they must ban fracking permanently and spend their efforts on seeking greener energy with a bold vision for renewable energy and the new industry of sustainable well paid jobs this can bring to Bury.
The Tory Government’s track record on green issues is troubling. In Bury, our green belt land remains under threat from the Tory Housing Ministers homes target, our public transport struggles to provide a reliable service to get us out of our cars and air pollution in and around Bury is some of the highest in Europe. When confronted with this polluted air issue, the Minister told me we should ‘ build a wall!’ More widely, they have pushed through plans for a 3rd runway at Heathrow which I voted against because it too fails to address the climate concerns more and more of us have. And I don’t trust them to reach their own 2050 net zero emissions targets.
I have no confidence in this government or in Tory rhetoric about green and environmental issues. They are all rhetoric and no record.
Tackling our climate crisis takes real work, not lip-service at election time. I look forward to discussing my work and vision for the future on this most enormous issue of our time as I travel around to see you all this election.