Campaigners met MPs at Westminster to protest against a bill which they claim will make it easier for companies to frack in Mid Sussex.
Friends of the earth campaigner Brenda Pollock said if the Infrastructure Bill is passed it will allow companies to drill under residents’ homes for shale oil and gas exploration without permission.
“We’re trying to make sure this bill isn’t passed that will allow trespass onto people’s property,” she said.
“Sussex and Wealden is one of the biggest areas for fracking, which includes Mid Sussex.
“Other companies will look to follow in the footsteps of Cuadrilla.
“Many MPs are saying residents of Mid Sussex are very emotional and it’s not that risky, but most residents have done their research meticulously.
“Only a handful of MPs are waking up and smelling the coffee.”
Residents from Ardingly and Burgess Hill urged MPs to support amendments to the bill, including those being proposed by Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, and Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes.
These call for the removal of some clauses in the Bill which make it easier for fracking to take place.
Friends of the Earth claim the measure is opposed by 74% of people in opinion polls and by 99% of respondents to the government’s consultation.
Brenda continued: “We fully support residents’ concerns over this proposed legislation.
“The Government is keen to make it easier for fracking companies to drill for oil and gas using new techniques that are highly risky.
“People don’t want their land to be a test ground for extracting ever more difficult to reach fossil fuels.”
Caroline Lucas also called for a ban on fracking.
She said: “This lobby has shown that people really care about the government’s push for shale oil and gas.
“They want their MPs to represent their concerns on fracking.
“My amendments reflect the concerns I have heard and would not only delete the change to trespass laws but also prohibit fracking altogether.”
The Bill is being scrutinised by a committee of MPs, and all MPs will vote on it at the end of January in Parliament.
Brenda added she believes allowing the bill to pass would not win any votes in this year’s election.
She said: “If the bill is passed we will see more companies coming in and trying to frack. Where it has been done in the US and Australia we’re starting to see the fall out.”
Friends of the Earth states: “The change to trespass law is a further lurch to deregulation of the fracking industry because it permits extensive right of use for fracking companies.
“The need for planning permission should be clearly stated on the face of the bill.
“It is impossible to eliminate the risks from fracking, but the lurch towards further deregulation in the Infrastructure Bill significantly increases risks to water, health and the climate.”
Victoria Dorman, a Mayfield resident who was at the lobby, added: “The Government should not be passing any legislation that allows companies to drill underneath our homes and land without permission.
“I wanted my MP to know how strongly we feel locally about this issue and to ask him to vote to improve the Bill and cut the clauses which virtually give carte blanche to fracking companies.”
To view the bill visit services.parliament.uk/bills/2014-15/infrastructure.html
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