The Queen’s Speech: your home is no longer your castle

The government has brought forward legislation that could lead to people being stripped of their right to object to fracking underneath their homes.

The government has brought forward legislation that could lead to people being stripped of their right to object to fracking underneath their homes

This morning we transformed David Cameron’s idyllic Cotswold home into a fracking site in anticipation of getting the green light to drill under his home following the Queen’s speech.

In the end the police turned up and asked us to leave, which we did.

After all they had a point – if you want to frack under someone’s garden you should have the decency to ask for their permission first.

But this is clearly not a view shared by the Prime minister, who today brought forward legislation that could lead to people being stripped of their right to object to fracking underneath their homes.

The access right issue stems from the fact that shale gas exploration involves not just drilling down vertically but also out horizontally, often for more than a mile.

Under current law, companies need permission from all the landowners beneath whose land they plan to drill. Case law shows they would otherwise be committing trespass. If a landowner refuses permission, the company has to take them to court, which then decides whether to award drilling rights.

Staggeringly, David Cameron and Nick Clegg introduced the Queen’s speech by describing how, “we have protected and extended freedoms by shifting powers back to people in their communities”.

It takes a lot of chutzpah to cast yourself as a champion of local communities, while at the same time removing people’s right to decide whether they want inexperienced fracking companies conducting fracking experiments under their home.

Over 46,000 people have signed up to Greenpeace’s legal blockade to protect their homes and communities from fracking, opening the prospect of a patchwork of no-go areas for fracking being established across the country.

This is a nightmarish scenario for the shale gas lobby who dreads their dash for shale gas getting bogged down in a legal quagmire. This is why they put huge pressure on the government to change the law, and ministers have obliged.

This is a toxic policy that will come with a hefty political price tag. A recent YouGov survey found that 74 per cent of people oppose the proposed changes to trespass laws. This includes 73 per cent of Tory voters and 70 per cent of Lib Dems.

But it is potential Labour voters who are most opposed to removing the right of homeowners to refuse drilling companies permission, with 80 per cent disagreeing with the proposed change.

This has prompted Labour MP and chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, Joan Walley, to  argue today that stripping “homeowners and tenants of their right to stand up to fracking companies is a step too far”.

She added that “a year away from the election it’s time to demonstrate that we’re listening carefully to what our supporters want and that we’re actively developing a clean and secure energy policy”.

Fracking is a long way from being clean and secure. It will involve the industrialisation of tracts of the British countryside and presents a serious threat to our climate.

While fracking proponents have attempted to paint it green, the chief scientist at the Department for Energy and Climate Change, Prof. David MacKay, has said that “in the absence of global climate policies, we believe it is credible that shale-gas use would increase both short-term and long-term emissions rates”.

The International Energy Agency has said that we need to leave two-thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground if we’re to have any chance of limiting climate change to two degrees. In this context we shouldn’t even be having a debate about whether or not to frack, let alone bringing forward legislation to undermine long-standing rights. Leaving it in the ground is a no brainer.

As an indicator of just out of hand the government’s attempts to railroad fracking through have become, you need look no further than the village of Fernhurst in South Downs National Park.

Earlier this year, local people got together and decided that they didn’t want energy company Celitique Energie to frack in (or under) their village. And, in a move that David Cameron would presumably have approved of in his Big Society days, they sent a legal letter to the company formally refusing them permission to drill under their property.

This proved extremely effective, with the company withdrawing its application to drill horizontally, thus severely hampering its operations. But rather than respect their wishes, the government has given way to industry pressure and decided to remove their legal right to object instead.

Next month, David Cameron will auction off over half of the UK to fracking companies. Having failed to convince people that fracking is safe or indeed desirable, he is trying to make sure there’s nothing they can do to stop him.

Lawrence Carter is an energy campaigner for Greenpeace

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22 Responses to “The Queen’s Speech: your home is no longer your castle”

  1. chester kendra

    Well done and to the point!

  2. davidhill

    Two reasons not to trust your politician.
    Shale Gas Fracking – just another big Con on the British People that will create more problems eventually than any so-called benefits? –

    Successive Governments have allowed our national security in terms of energy to fall into foreign hands – in centuries gone by they would have been tried and hanged for Treason –

  3. Chrisso

    Join the Big Society of energy companies that don’t support fracking:

    Ecotricity – “100% green electricity.
    electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar and tidal power and
    funds the building of new green energy sources”. HAS a No fracking policy
    and helps build green gas mills.

    Good Energy – “supporting over 52,000
    independent generators across Britain”. HAS a No fracking policy.

    Coop Energy – previously mutually owned…
    HAS a No fracking policy. The Co-op is a major corporate backer of the
    anti-fracking movement.

    LoCO2 Energy – “our micro-hydro sites
    turn the UK’s rain into affordable renewable electricity. A significant
    proportion of our electricity generation comes from low carbon gas generation.
    However, none of this was sourced from fracked shale gas and we have no plans
    to do so in the future”. HAS a No fracking policy.

  4. swatnan

    It still is. As far as the service pipes and cable go, then below that it belongs to the State.
    Any subsidence and earthquakes caused can be remedied by appropriate compensation. Burt as Caroline (Flint) has pointed out, we have to plan ahead for a mixed Energy Future which includes renewables and exploring the potential of shale gas.

  5. Leon Wolfeson

    Yes, of course you’d murder democracy.

  6. davidhill

    What democracy? I see no ships as Nelson said !

  7. Leon Wolfeson

    Exactly, you’re in deliberate denial over our democracy. You hold what can be described, accurately, as values foreign to Britain’s democracy.

  8. davidhill

    Please open up your mind to the real truth and the first I would go to is the USA where Obama says one thing to his people and then behind their back does the opposite – the bankers are a prime example here – read about what he did behind closed doors –

  9. Leon Wolfeson

    I don’t need to smash my head into a wall until I’m addled, thanks!

    Keep posting conspiracy crap website link spam.

  10. davidhill

    You don’t believe that Obama made a deal with the bankers behind closed doors in the White House then? Clearly you have a problem with the world and everything appears to your thinking to be hunky dory and even Snowdon’s revelations are all conspiracy crap also? Get real and get into the real world of politics behind closed doors !

  11. Leon Wolfeson

    No, I don’t believe your nonsense and for-profit-linkspam, where it’s all a massive conspiracy, and you’re locked in a struggle to remove our democracy.

    The problem we face is there is no plan – there’s just short-sighted capitalists looking at next quarter’s profits, and how to please their political base in the short term. There are most certainly issues – and both you and your capitalist buddies are part of it.

    That you try and abuse Snowdon’s revelations about some elements of government overreaching (and not telling other parts, in the main) is also no surprise.

  12. davidhill

    Ironically I agree with your second paragraph. The reason, it is capitalism and its ‘big’ brother globalization that is the problem. It is apparent that you have not read any of my blogs as if you had you would have seen clearly that I certainly am not a capitalist supporter.

    But for a bit of bedtime reading you might wish to view an interview that Snowden gave a few days ago. Indeed overall capitalism is leading the people in the West down the proverbial Swanny – ‘June 5th: Edward Snowden in conversation with John Perry Barlow – Liveblog at PDF’14- –

    Respectfully don’t associate me again with being a capitalist and where I am at the other end of the spectrum. Indeed it is capitalism that is destroying the human experience for the very minority few.

  13. Leon Wolfeson

    I said I’m not interested in your for-pay linkspam, capitalist, And no, capitalism is destroying the future for the 99%.

  14. davidhill

    I am sorry but your comment does not make sense. Are you saying that capitalism is destroying the future of 99%? If so you are a bit out because according to Credit Suisse’s ‘Global Wealth Report’ (2013) the top 10% control 86% of the world’s wealth leaving a mere 14% for the remaining 90%. Therefore the top 10% like capitalism I would say, wouldn’t you and not just 1%?

  15. Leon Wolfeson

    More distraction tactics I see.

  16. davidhill

    You’re a waste of time and completely brainwashed. How old are you?

  17. Leon Wolfeson

    Ah yes, I’m not uncritically supporting your capitalist linkspam, so you throw abuse.

  18. davidhill

    You haven’t got a single bit of intelligent dialogue in your body and I can’t understand where you get that my blogs are capitalist linkspam? My blogs are against capitalism if you have any intelligence at all and have read any of them? But knowing your lack of intellect you probably cannot understand them either?

  19. Leon Wolfeson

    Keep making my point for me. And you think I don’t have eyes now, I see. I need to fill my mind with your capitalist propagit, blah blah.

  20. davidhill

    What a foolish person you really are. Oh by the way, if you want to cite someone get their name right first. It is not Snowdon (that’s a mountain in North Wales), but Snowden ! Idiot.

  21. Leon Wolfeson

    Blah blah talking about your agenda openly is “foolish”. Right.
    Then you talk about spelling, to try and create a diversion.

  22. davidhill

    What an idiot as I have expressed before. As you will not disclose anything even your age I would put your mental capacity at age 10 at the most?

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