A massive thank you to everyone who came along to see our final submission at the Ellesmere Port public inquiry yesterday. Your support was amazing!
It was special to be in that grand old hall and listen to the forceful arguments against IGas stack up one by one. Our brilliant barrister Estelle delivered her speech with aplomb, and the rapturous standing ovation she received was testament to the terrific work of her and our team. They’ve done us all proud.
There were tears of relief as months of effort and hard work came to an end. We can rest assured that we’ve done everything we possibly can to fight the frackers and Keep Cheshire Frack Free. We hope that this may turn out to be a historic day.
The inquiry is now adjourned until next Tuesday at 10:30am when Cheshire West and Chester Council will make its final submission.
Have yourselves a fantastic frack free weekend!
Public inquiry final submission
Our brilliant barrister Estelle made her final submission to the Ellesmere Port public inquiry yesterday. She spoke eloquently and convincingly for over 100 minutes, and it’s difficult to convey the full weight of her arguments, the complexity of her technical understanding and the sheer impact of her speech, but here’s a summary.
IGas’s proposed exploration for shale gas, on a site 320m from local residences and 50m from local businesses, is not sustainable. Its impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, its negative air quality impacts, negative public health impacts, the social and economic harm it will cause, the risks it poses to nearby residents and businesses, and the way in which it undermines the regeneration vision for Ellesmere Port and its historic waterfront, mean that it is not sustainable development.
Given the existential threat of climate change, given the IPCC’s warnings of the need for immediate action to stay within 1.5 degrees of warming, given we have 11 years in which to act, it is the policies that seek to address climate change and limit greenhouse gas emissions that must be given the greatest weight.
We are currently at 1 to 1.1 degrees above preindustrial levels. If we are to hold to 1.5 degrees we have a small carbon budget available; incredibly small. Every additional molecule will take away from that tight carbon budget. So there is little emissions space.
Every emission emitted by this development is one that cannot be emitted by a school or a hospital or any other development if we are to stay within our carbon budget.
There is evidence that deprived communities are disproportionately exposed and vulnerable to the effects of exposure to environmental pollution including traffic related impacts on air quality. Even small levels of exposure can impact negatively on such communities. Residents who are poorer, suffering from health problems, unhappy and opposed to the proposed development may experience its impacts more intensely than others.
There is clear evidence before the inspector that there are widespread, genuinely held fears on the part of the local community that the development represents a risk to their health and to their safety. The specific characteristic of the local community make the social harm caused by granting planning permission more acute.
This is not an ignorant or an ill-informed community. They have long experience of the impacts of industry. They have access to, and have accessed, information on the impacts of shale gas exploration within a residential community, even when regulated. They have read the science.
They have a wealth of information about the public health impacts of climate change, to which this development unquestionably will contribute. Again, they have read the science.
So these genuinely held and entirely justified concerns, in and of themselves, are a reason to refuse planning permission
In the way it interacted with the community, in the information it provided, in its high-handed approach, in its resort to injunctions, IGas made a series of decisions that caused and then exacerbated the community’s lack of trust. This contributed significantly to the social harm which the development will cause.
What makes this proposal different from other proposals is that it is planned to be situated in the heart of an already vulnerable community, in the context of a complete breakdown in trust between that community and the developer, based on the developer’s behaviour, and where the expert evidence shows a granting of planning permission would lead to social harm and a public health impact.
The local community has said a resounding no to the proposed development. Its opposition is not ill-informed or ignorant or knee-jerk, as some have attempted to characterise it.
The proposed development is simply in the wrong place and, in light of its adverse impacts, is not acceptable in planning terms. This issue boils down to location, location, location. The proposed development is simply in the wrong location. As a result is it not sustainable development and planning permission should be refused.
Read Estelle’s full speech:
We still need your help!
Thank you to everyone who’s donated so far. Without your generous donations we simply wouldn’t have been able to fight our corner at the inquiry. It’s a fabulous achievement and we couldn’t have done it without you!
We’ve entered the home straight, so if you’d like to donate and help us over the finish line, we’d be very grateful.