Prominent climate denier Lord Lawson has called for the British Government to override Lancashire County Council’s decision to refuse Cuadrilla’s fracking planning applications.
Speaking on the BBC’s Daily Politics yesterday, Lawson, chairman of the climate sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation, voiced his concern that the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is missing out on the opportunity to develop the Bowland shale gas deposits.
His comments come as George Osborne, this week, promised devolution of powers to the ‘Northern Powerhouse’, including cities such as Manchester and Liverpool, in order to boost economic growth in the area.
Supporting the initiative, Lawson said: “The important thing is to develop the economy of the north of England… and we have a wonderful opportunity which has not been seized and the government, in my opinion, has got to be far more vigorous.”
But the irony of this statement did not go unnoticed. As the second panellist on the show, Shabana Mahmood, the Labour MP for Birmingham, pointed out: “If you’re going to devolve power to local people then you have to kind of go with what local people say they want their priority to be… You can’t have real devolution and then still seek to control from the centre.”
Lawson’s comments follow those of Peter Lilley, another UK climate denier and a Tory MP, made only last week.
When asked by Green MP Caroline Lucas on Daily Politics if he accepted the council’s decision, Lilley said: “Well, it’s not about whether I accept it or not but whether the company concerned is going to appeal. I think they should.”
Nail in the Coffin
Overturning Lancashire’s decision, however, will prove difficult given the release of Defra’s formerly redacted fracking report which vindicated many of the council’s concerns about shale gas extraction in the area.
According to Professor Paul Stevens, an energy expert for Chatham House, the council’s decision is the “final nail in the coffin” for fracking in the UK.
As Stevens argues on Energydesk: “Cuadrilla will certainly appeal and it’s likely the Government, which is seriously pro-shale gas, will override the Council’s rejection. However, the prospects of continuing fracking operations in the face of what would certainly be serious and concerted mass opposition look virtually non-existent.”