• Come clean and show us the contract
    In 2012, Gloucestershire County Council agreed a £500 million contract with corporate developer UBB (Urbaser Balfour Beatty) to build and operate a huge "mass burn" incinerator at Javelin Park, Haresfield, on the edge of the Cotswolds designated Area Of Natural Beauty, to be paid for using taxpayers' money. Negotiations were shrouded in secrecy and no public consultation was entered into with respect to cleaner and cheaper waste solutions [1], which were - and still are - available. We do not know the contents of the contract, because they have never been fully revealed. What we do know is that - democratic bodies representing over half of the county opposed the plans (2 MPs, 3 District Councils,19 Town and Parish Councils) - 3 weeks after the contract was actually signed, in 2013, the Gloucestershire County Council Planning Committee, after a full hearing of all sides of the debate, voted unanimously to refuse planning permission [2] And yet, on the 7th of January 2015, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles overturned that democratic planning decision. Now we are being told that if the Council uphold democracy and cancel the contract with UBB there will be a massive penalty to pay - up to £100 million - yet we are not being told how they have reached this figure. We have a right to know how this happened. It is our money, our environment and our health that are at issue and we are not being told the whole story. NOTES: [1] An MBT (Mechanical Biological Treatment) plant already has planning permission in Gloucestershire - and UBB themselves have been commissioned to build one in Essex. See the developer's own explanation of its advantages: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gVTCv92hHWNDs5LxcJ7CoEruEPxuad9gul-T9nIsuI4/edit [2] Among the reasons for refusal were: - evidence of air pollution and fear of health risk - competition with sustainable methods such as recycling - huge impact on the landscape - high CO2 emissions - significant import of waste from elsewhere required to maintain function
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  • Stop Fracking: Gloucestershire County Council
    Horizontal hydraulic fracturing, ‘fracking’, is a way of extracting oil and/or gas. Water, sand and toxic chemicals are injected at high pressure into underground rocks to shatter them. This releases the gas/oil which can be collected. The oil and gas industries claim that fracking will increase UK energy security and create jobs. But the amount of gas or oil estimated to exist in shale/coal bed formations and the amount that can be extracted are very different. The evidence in the US is that - contrary to extravagant industry claims of a century of natural gas - fracking wells are already dropping in production. It is an extremely expensive extraction method that cannot provide a long-term return. It cannot create either energy or job security. However, fracking is not just expensive economically, but more disturbingly in the costs to the environment and human health as well as that of livestock. There have been many instances in the US of ground and surface water contamination as a result of fracking activities, some of which have caused drastic health problems and even necessitated state or corporate provision of alternative drinking water. Access to drinkable water is one of the key achievements of developed nations. Water Aid states that 768 million people worldwide - roughly 1 in 10 - still don't have access to safe water. Do we in Britain, one of the most advanced nations in the world, want to risk members of our own population joining that number? Absolutely not. But that's exactly what fracking would risk. All oil wells are concrete-and-steel constructions that will eventually fail, and even in the short term, fracking wells have an estimated 6% chance of a fault of some kind (industry estimate). The specifics of local geology and underground watercourses cannot be reliably predicted or legislated for. For a fracking site to be profitable, hundreds of wells are required. The maths - and the logic - isn't difficult. This practice is simply too dangerous, and the return too uncertain, expensive and limited, to justify. As for jobs, they go where the political will and the entrepreneurs go. The oil and gas industry would have it be a choice between environment and jobs. This is misleading and profoundly unhelpful - the Council and indeed the Government should support job creation in the renewables industry which (unlike the oil and gas industry) is actually in steady growth, and will reduce carbon emissions... We therefore call on the council to preserve the quality of life of Gloucestershire's residents and those of the UK in general, and reject any and all planning applications for fracking including Coal Bed Methane and Underground Coal Gasification applications, whether now or in future.
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