As the Public Inquiry into Fracking begins today in Blackpool, Gordon has called upon the enquiry to respect the decision of Lancashire County Council and local people in Lancashire, and reject Cuadrilla’s plans for fracking on the Fylde.
Gordon, who strongly opposed the applications from Cuadrilla to extract Shale Gas at both Little Plumpton and Roseacre Woods, said it would be a “huge rejection” of local accountability and make a mockery of the Government’s claims to be delivering devolution to regions like the North West, if ministers try to overrule local decision making.
He said: "The widespread concerns about safety, impact on the countryside, people’s environment and our local tourism - these are all worries, which large numbers of people in Blackpool, on the Fylde and across Lancashire have expressed. That’s why Lancashire County Council leader, Councillor Jennifer Mein was absolutely right to send a letter last week to Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Local Government, pointing out how damaging to local democracy it would be for him to overrule the democratic wish of the people of Lancashire."
At Prime Minister's Question Time last year, Gordon highlighted the double standards of the Tory Government in respecting the views of local people on wind farms, but ignoring their concerns on shale gas. He said: "For a Government that claims to champion localism, it is unfair and double standards to give communities a say on wind farms but not on fracking. Real community power means the ability to influence final decisions, not to just simply play a token role in the intervening process."
Gordon, who joined his Labour colleague, Cat Smith, the MP for Lancaster in Fleetwood in opposing plans to allow fracking in national parks, said fracking supporters needed to get a "reality check" about the potential risks to Blackpool and the damage it would have to both seaside and rural tourism – something that Gordon is keen to see greater links between.
He explained: "The potential for huge disruption, public protest and the impact of seeing a fracking rig will be disastrous for both our residents and visitors. This is an issue for us in Blackpool in terms of potential negatives for the town’s image with tourism, as well as environmental and other concerns."
Gordon said the announcement of the new Enterprise Zone on Squires Gate Lane gave the local area a major opportunity to develop the already strong offshore activity in renewable energy at Liverpool Bay, such as wind and solar, which he said were the "genuinely viable alternative" for the Fylde and the rest of the North West in the years ahead.
He added: "For the Government to cut support for renewable energy and try to bulldoze fracking through in defiance of local democracy and at a time when energy prices from oil and gas are dropping like a stone is both illogical and ill-thought-out. We should make that point loud and hard to the so-called fans of fracking.