UK's largest union calls for fracking ban and "democratic control of the energy industry"

July 24, 2014
Unite policy conference 2014
news photo

At UNITE’s 2014 policy conference, the following resolution was passed:

Composite C6 (Incorporating Motions D1, D3 & D4)

Standing in the names of:

North West/Merseyside AAC

North East, Yorkshire & Humber/300/22 Wm Morrison Distribution Stockton Branch

South West/001401 Bristol Finance & Legal Sector Branch

D. Environment

(i) Hydraulic Fracturing

Conference notes:

· that fracking is a process that allows the exploitation of shale gas and oil for energy use; the Government sees this as a quick fix to shore up immediate energy supplies and improve Britain’s energy security; the exploitation of shale gas is not a green energy and will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions; it is also speculated that the possible accidental release of methane gas would substantially increase the effects of global warming and climate change

· that the government continues to aggressively pursue a policy designed to promote hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’); this has been re-affirmed by Cameron’s announcement that local authorities in England would receive all the business rates collected from shale gas schemes – rather than the usual 50%; the aim of which is promoting this technology and the exploitation of shale gas and oil regardless of the consequences for the environment, Unite members and our communities

· there is growing in growing international opposition to hydraulic fracturing from both local communities and unions; experts and environmental organisations such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, WWF, and the Co-op oppose fracking

· hydraulic fracturing has the potential to cause earth tremors, water contamination and environmental damage; in the UK operations near Blackpool were suspended after earthquakes which were believed to be caused by a nearly fracking operation; elsewhere in the world the correlation between earthquakes and fracking is compelling; fracking is also blamed for the contamination of ground water which feeds into the human drinking water supplies, this ranges from chemical contamination to radioactive contamination; the most spectacular of which is methane contamination which in parts of the USA has allowed consumers to actually burn their tap water

· the fracking process is mainly going to be carried out in the North West and North East regions, not the prosperous South; one of the ironies is that a French company Total Oil is moving into the fracking industry in Britain, however France has a total ban on fracking

Hydraulic fracturing will have a long term negative impact on the vast majority of working people and their communities. Workers in the industry can be potentially exposed to high levels of crystalline silica – a chemical used in fracking – leading to silicosis, lung cancer and other debilitating diseases.

In re-affirming the decision of the 2012 Unite Policy Conference to oppose the practice of hydraulic fracturing, Conference calls for Unite to make all members aware of the dangers of fracking, actively oppose fracking, to use its influence to prevent fracking operations, advise members not to work on fracking sites nor deliver materials to such operations and resolves to:

· support and lobby for a moratorium on all ‘fracking’ activities across the United Kingdom

· encourage the Labour Party and Labour controlled councils to take actions formally opposing the application of hydraulic fracturing technology within the United Kingdom

· request Unite Regional Committees support local anti-fracking groups’ activities, including help with funding

· encourage members at all levels of the union to support campaigns against ‘fracking’ and to link up with local campaigners

· support calls for taking profit out of energy production and distribution and favour the public ownership and democratic control of the energy industry with the direct input of local communities and trade unions in decisions on creating a balanced and sustainable energy policy.

Proposer: Gerard Sheridan Delegate No: 229

Representing: NW/Merseyside AAC

Seconder: Tony Staunton Delegate No: 409

Representing: SW Region

Originally published on July 28th, 2014