Which Mayoral candidate will protect Bristol from fracking?

A nuclear meltdown at Hinckley Point or contamination of Bristol’s water supply would be major emergencies for the city of Bristol – and both could be triggered by fracking. The Greater Bristol Alliance is challenging the Mayoral candidates to state publicly before the election on 5th May whether they are willing to confront the Government to demand protection for people living in Bristol.

Hilary Saunders, speaking for the Great Bristol Alliance, commented: “We know that fracking can cause minor earthquakes, but the Government is planning to build an £18 billion nuclear power station at Hinckley Point, which is situated in an area recently designated for potential fracking!

“The threat to our water supply comes from Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence PEDL 226, which covers the area from Parson Street in Bedminster down to the reservoirs in the Chew Valley. There is also the danger that drilling at Keynsham in the licence area PEDL 228 could contaminate the River Avon which flows into Bristol.

Living close to a fracking well carries health risks because of the highly toxic chemicals used to fracture shale rock and release natural gas. Coal Bed Methane extraction, another technique for releasing gas, involves drilling into coal seams closer to the surface and there is the risk of methane leaking from the well into the ground water. Health risks identified by research in the US include headaches, nausea, breathing difficulties and breast cancer.

As fracking involves drilling a well vertically or at an angle for 1 or 2 miles and then drilling horizontally for 1 mile or more, this process could be taking place under homes in South Bristol. Local homeowners may have difficulty in obtaining buildings insurance. They may also find it difficult to sell their home or may have to accept a substantial drop in price. This is already happening in Lancashire.”

At present we have an opportunity to protect Bristol from fracking. The company, UK Methane, has relinquished the licences PEDL 226 and 228, but these licences could be awarded again, most likely when the oil price goes up.

 The question for each Mayoral candidate is: Would you be willing to use your influence as Mayor of Bristol to demand publicly that the Government permanently removes PEDL 226 and PEDL 228 from any future licensing round?

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PRESS RELEASE For Immediate Release Open Letter to Phil Smith MD, Business West, Re TTIP Leaked Documents

Dear Phil Smith,

I represent the Greater Bristol Alliance, a local organisation with concerns over the ratification of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and CETA.

The texts of the TTIP negotiations have been kept strictly secret until last Monday’s leak, which reveals European Commission negotiators preparing to trade away key sectors of the European economy in order to win contracts for multinational corporations in the USA. [https://www.ttip-leaks.org/]. The leaked documents, which represent 13 of the 17 chapters currently in ‘consolidated text’ form, also confirm that TTIP will open the door to US producers of genetically modified food and other products banned in the EU for public health and environmental reasons, confirming fears that European regulatory standards will be abandoned in the deal.

Additionally, they show that the USA is refusing to accept any ‘reforms’ suggested by the EU to the hugely controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) ‘corporate court’ mechanism, which allows big business to sue governments for lost profits.

We have long warned that TTIP is a danger to democracy, food safety, jobs, small and medium size enterprises and public services. Now we see it is even worse than we feared. Today’s leak shows the European Commission preparing to sell us down the river, doing deals behind closed doors that will change the face of European society for ever. It is simply unacceptable that a group of unelected officials should be allowed to contemplate such a thing without any public scrutiny.

The Greater Bristol Alliance, in concert with other community organisations, have already called on Bristol Mayor, George Ferguson, to make Bristol a TTIP free zone. This was backed by a petition of over 4000 signatures, debated by the full council, requesting an impact assessment on the ability to give preference to local companies in procurement by local authorities. It was pointed out that in giving local companies preference,  local authorities could risk being sued by multinational corporations with almost infinite resources to spend on litigation.

To date, we are unaware of any challenges made by Bristol Chamber of Commerce or Business West to this toxic deal. Can you please confirm the position Business West intends taking to defend the interests of local business, particularly those in food manufacture, during this, Bristol’s Food Connections Festival.

Yours sincerely,

Alison Allan

Chair – Greater Bristol Alliance