Retford Times: 29 January 2015

This week in Parliament I was the only Nottinghamshire MP who voted to stop fracking. I voted against the leadership of all major parties including my own and supported a ‘moratorium’ on fracking which would have meant that all fracking would be immediately stopped until a full, independent assessment of the risks and benefits has taken place. Whilst I am happy to have an open mind on fracking, I can see no reason why it should not be put on hold until we have all the evidence that local people need to make up their minds whether they want fracking in their area. The motion was unfortunately voted down in the House of Commons by 308 to 52.

When I spoke in Parliament I highlighted the issue faced by local residents last year regarding potential fracking in Lound. Despite being a former munitions site the County Council which is the planning authority with responsibility for fracking, the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive were all unclear about who should have responsibility for assessing the information on the state of play of the potential contamination, and the application simply bounced around between them. Clearer guidelines on where responsibility lies for fracking licences needs to be established.

I also put forward an amendment in Parliament which would forbid any fracking within 2km of a village or town. This is a model which has been tested in Australia and according to a poll of thousands of people in Bassetlaw last year has strong local backing. The House of Commons did not however allow a vote on this proposal.

The only good news from the fracking debate was that the Government has agreed to stop fracking until a new set of conditions are met, including an environmental assessment and ensuring that water companies are consulted by the Planning Authority.

I have also put down a Parliamentary Motion calling on the Government to make use of the vast unused potential of installing solar panels on the roofs of distribution depots, factories and homes. Agricultural land has quickly become the solution for energy production when roofs present a far more preferable option and do not hamper the local landscape or food production. I now have the support of MPs from the three main parties for the motion and will continue to pressure the Government to have a smarter solar energy policy.

Next week the Royal British Legion will start holding drop-in sessions for veterans and their families in Retford. The first session will be held on Thursday 5th February at 10.00 in the Old Bank next to Retford Town Hall. A number of members will be on hand to offer advice and suggestions on the help that the Royal British Legion provides. The Legion ensures that the sacrifices that service men and women have made for our country are properly commemorated and that the interests of the wider service community are represented. This means that members have access to financial, social and emotional care and support – such as the drop-in sessions in Retford.  Please do go along next Thursday if you think the Royal British Legion might be able to assist you or a family member in any way.

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