A future Labour government must enforce an “outright ban” on fracking and leave almost all fossil fuels in the ground, the former environment minister Michael Meacher MP said last night.
The Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton then launched an impassioned attack on Lord Howell, a Tory peer and father-in-law of chancellor George Osborne, for suggesting fracking should take place in “desolate” wastelands in the north of England.
“How do these dunce-heads get away with it?” he asked during a packed Labour party conference fringe meeting in Manchester held by Friends of the Earth.
The former minister said fracking “has got to be stopped”. He went on: “The arguments which are very powerful against tracking are well known – the health hazards, gas leaks and contaminated water.”
He claimed fracking in the United States had already past its peak and that the risks of extracting shale gas far outweighed any economic benefits.
“What should be done? We have to leave all fossil fuels to a maximum degree in the ground,” he went on. “There is no alternative. It’s not an ideological point of view – it’s necessary.”
He argued Britain could rely instead on renewable energy. “We have as much renewables around our island…as the rest of Europe put together. We can more than deal with our energy requirements for the future.”
Meacher authored Destination of the Species: The Riddle of Human Experience and has argued humans could become extinct in a few hundred years.
He has argued: “I don’t think there is any guarantee of our survival especially if we remain as irresponsible and foolish as we are at the moment.”
The environment minister under Tony Blair has more recently authored The State We Need in which he espouses “national interest capitalism”.