On Monday I was the only Nottinghamshire Member of Parliament who voted to stop fracking, against the advice of the party whip. I supported the ‘moratorium’ on fracking which would have put a halt to fracking until a full independent assessment of the risks and benefits had taken place.
I am sure that people who saw the debate on fracking will agree that it was a farce. Anyone who did tune in would have seen Parliament debating obscure protocol and failing to get to the issues that actually matter. Twelve times I stood to question the Government Minister who is from Hastings – some 200 miles away from Worksop. I wanted to ask her one simple question: if fracking is so great, why shouldn’t local people have the right to decide whether and where it should go ahead? Twelve times she refused to take my question.
I voted for the moratorium because I can see no reason why we should not have further information on fracking and then allow local people to decide if it goes ahead. The motion was however defeated and the House of Commons also failed to vote on my amendment which would have stopped 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. Some tightening of regulations and assessment was agreed which is positive, but overall in my view the House of Commons failed to carry out its duties properly and provide proper representation. Whatever your views on fracking, it is sensible to move forward only with the consent of those directly affected.
On a more positive note, I have 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 impact on 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.
From next week the Royal British Legion will start holding drop-in sessions for veterans and their families in Bassetlaw. 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. 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.