ON SATURDAY (May 28), supporters of Frack Free West Wales gathered outside Barclays in Aberystwyth to protest against the bank’s support for fracking in the UK. Fracking is shorthand for the hydraulic fracturing of shale rock to extract methane (natural gas).
The action outside Barclays was a show of solidarity with the residents of North Yorkshire.
North Yorkshire Council recently approved a fracking development outside Kirby Misperton, a village in Ryedale near the North York Moors national park. The Aberystwyth protest was one of a number of similar actions taking place across Britain.
Nicki Wilkins of Frack Free West Wales said, ‘We support communities around the world who are fighting governments and companies that put profit before people or the planet. We organised this gathering in solidarity with those people in Yorkshire who continue to try to safeguard their community from Third Energy, which is owned by Barclays Bank, and the Conservative government, who are intent on profiting from the exploitation of fossil fuels. We have to leave fossil fuels in the ground if we are to protect future generations from runaway climate change, it’s as simple as that. Unfortunately, our current government doesn’t take our future into consideration when making their deals so it’s up to us, the people, to stand up to them.’
In 2015 Frack Free West Wales successfully lobbied Ceredigion Council to declare the county ‘frack free’. Ceredigion was the first local authority in Wales to take this step, empowering other councils to follow suit.
RIDING ROUGHSHOD OVER RYEDALE
North Yorkshire Council’s decision to approve Third Energy’s proposal to frack for gas at Kirby Misperton was made despite thousands of objections from residents and campaigners.
Over 32,000 people signed a petition condemning the Council’s decision. The petition also challenged the UK Government to ‘develop a balanced long term energy policy that will achieve our globally agreed climate change targets’.
The Frack Free Ryedale campaign group are currently considering whether they can take legal action to stop the fracking at Kirby Misperton.
No new fracking developments have been approved in Britain since 2011 when the process was found to be responsible for two earthquakes near Blackpool. Since then, campaigners have successfully countered proposed developments, notably Cuadrilla’s schemes in Sussex and Lancashire. Communities and campaigns across Britain are concerned that the North Yorkshire decision will set a precedent that leads to more fracking sites being approved.
The UK government seems set on the promotion of fracking. In 2014 David Cameron stated ‘We’re going all out for shale’. Opponents argue that such a policy directly contradicts the UK’s commitment to curb climate change.
Although it is ‘cleaner’ than coal or oil, shale gas is still a fossil fuel that emits carbon dioxide when burned to produce energy. There is also evidence that leakages of methane associated with the fracking process could mean that the overall impact of shale gas on the climate is worse that of other fossil fuels.
Measure for measure over a 100 year period methane causes around 25 times more atmospheric warming than carbon dioxide.
In 2015 Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said the UK is ‘absolutely committed’ to the Paris climate deal and will be ‘making sure we deliver on it’. Opponents claim that Rudd and Cameron’s statements are contradictory.
Scotland has imposed a moratorium on fracking.
New SNP Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said it would not be permitted unless it could be proved ‘beyond doubt that there is no risk to health, communities or the environment.’
FRACK FREE WALES?
Wales does not have a moratorium on fracking. In 2015, the then Natural Resources and Planning Minister Carl Sargeant assumed the power to stop councils from approving applications for fracking.
In a letter to the 25 planning authorities in Wales he wrote that where a local planning authority ‘do not propose to refuse an application for unconventional oil and gas development, the authority must notify the Welsh ministers.’
That directive followed a Senedd vote instigated by Plaid Cymru proposing that the Welsh government to do everything in its power to prevent fracking in Wales.
Nobody has yet applied for fracking in Wales. There are two sites with all the necessary permits to carry out test drilling, Pontrhydyfen and Llandow. However, there is no sign of work beginning any time soon.
A spokesperson for Frack Free Wales, Keith Ross, told the Herald: “The main concern about the North Yorks decision is that it will pave the way for more fracking applications and give the whole industry renewed impetus.
Despite the so-called ‘moratorium’ in Wales we can expect the UK Government to do everything in its power to undermine opposition in Wales, so we need to focus hard on preventing this industry from gaining a foothold. Anything that can done to slow progress and to put obstacles in the way of the industry will contribute to this aim – including action against those who are funding the industry.
“The fight in Wales goes on until we have a complete ban on Unconventional Gas Development and are well on the path to generating all our energy from renewable resources.”
‘YOU WON’T BE FRACKING LONG!’
There are legitimate public concerns about fracking.
Including excessive water use, earthquakes, well-head and transportation accidents leading to groundwater contamination, landscape degradation and an increase in heavy road traffic because the gas is usually transported by tanker.
In the longer term the major concern must be that burning any fossil fuel drives climate change and fracking comes with the extra risk of methane leakage.
Opponents of fracking consistently argue the need to develop sources of renewable energy.
In common with protesters around Britain, Frack Free West Wales shared photos and video footage of the Barclays action on social media. Groups opposed to fracking across the UK are calling on customers to lobby Barclays and switch their accounts from a bank with a notoriously unethical history that includes supporting the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
The solidarity action in west Wales was much appreciated by the Frack Free Ryedale group who tweeted in response: ‘We love this! Thank you Aberystwyth – each & every one of you!’
Protesters in Aberystwyth sang ‘You won’t be fracking long’ to the tune of The Laughing Policeman.
As the evidence against the process increases and public opposition grows, they may indeed have the last laugh.
Plaid’s Dafydd Llywelyn re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner
THE NEW Police and Crime Commissioner for the Dyfed Powys Area has been announced.
Incumbent, Dafydd Llywelyn, of Plaid Cymru – The Party of Wales, has been re-elected for a second term.
The election was held Thursday, 06 May 2021, at the same time as the Senedd Cymru elections.
In order to follow all coronavirus regulations, the count for this election was held on Sunday, 09 May 2021.
The announcement was made in Ceredigion, at the Ysgol Bro Teifi, Llandysul.
Dafydd Llywelyn, was first elected as one of the two new Plaid Cymru PCCs during 2016’s election and is the PCC for Dyfed-Powys Police.
The force covers over half the land mass of Wales and during the PCC elections had the highest turnout of all PCC elections at 49%.
Mr Llywelyn is a former Principal Intelligence Analyst and worked within Police Intelligence for many years before, in 2014, moving to Aberystwyth University to lecture on Criminology. His career has provided him with considerable insight into core policing issues as well as an understanding of what the public want from the service. He has pledged to reinvest in CCTV and prevention activities and has refused to appoint a deputy.
Standing against him were three other candidates – Jon Burns (Conservative); Philippa Thompson (Labour) and Glyn Preston (Welsh Liberal Democrats).
The results for Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner’s elections were as follows:
Jon Burns (Conservatives); 69,112
Dafydd Llywelyn (Plaid Cymru); 68208
Philippa Thompson (Labour): 48033
Glyn Preston (Welsh Liberal Democrats) 17649
Jon Burns: 8209
Dafydd Llywelyn: 26280
This was the third time police and crime commissioner elections have been held. The election was originally due to take place in May 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new PCC term begins on Thursday, May 13, 2021.
Under the terms of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, PCCs must:
- secure an efficient and effective police for their area;
- appoint the Chief Constable, hold them to account for running the force, and if necessary dismiss them;
- set the police and crime objectives for their area through a police and crime plan;
- set the force budget and determine the precept;
- contribute to the national and international policing capabilities set out by the Home Secretary; and
- bring together community safety and criminal justice partners, to make sure local priorities are joined up.
Tregaron man charged with rape following large scale search for suspect
POLICE in Ceredigion have confirmed that man has been charged following the large police presence and search in the Lampeter area on Thursday, May 6.
A police operation was launched after an allegation of a serious sexual assault.
Officers have now confirmed that 45-year-old Saul Henvey, of Tregaron, has been charged with rape.
He is due to appear at Aberystwyth Magistrates Court on Monday, May 10.
Detectives dealing with the case that they would continue to provide specialist support to the victim.
A spokesperson said: “We would once again like to thank the public for their assistance in this investigation.”
Mark Drakeford says: ‘Thank you Wales for going red’
LABOUR is staying in power in Wales after matching its best-ever Senedd election result. It won exactly half of the 60 seats in the Welsh Parliament with all results now declared
Labour has 30 seats, with the Conservatives on 16, Plaid Cymru on 13 and the Liberal Democrats one.
Mark Drakeford thanked Wales for “going red” and has vowed to be “radical” and “ambitious” in government, as Labour looks to solidify its leadership in Wales.
Labour’s Vaughan Gething, health minister in the Welsh government, told the media that the party didn’t “have to look at a formal coalition” because they had done so well.
“We do, however, have to talk to other groups within the Senedd,” he said.
Mr Gething said Labour had a “strong mandate to govern” with 30 of the Senedd’s 60 seats.
The Wales Green Party failed to win a seat in the Senedd elections but they say they recorded their highest-ever result in Wales. Leader Anthony Slaughter said the “results demonstrate the appetite for change” across Wales.
Amelia Womack, deputy leader of the Green Party, said: “We seem to be getting votes from all of the parties and support on that regional list as people increase their knowledge of the voting system.”
Adam Price, who held Carmarthen East and Dinefwr with a reduced majority, said he would not stand down as Plaid Cymru leader.
Despite no gains, Mr Price said the party had increased its share of the vote and its stance on independence had been a “net positive”.
“I’m not walking away from anything, because this is the moment when Wales needs leadership,” he said.
“This is a historic challenge, because of the way that the politics is moving in this island, but it’s also a historic opportunity for us.
“We can move our nation forward and I’m looking forward to playing my part, it’s not something that anyone can do on their own.
“I have a role to play, we all have a role to play and that’s what’s exciting about politics at the moment. Wales is on the move Wales is on the march. I’m going to be part of that.”
Later, on social media, Adam Price said: ” I extend my congratulations to Mark Drakeford on securing a mandate to lead the next government. Although disappointed not to be returning more Members to the Senedd, I am proud that we ran a positive campaign based on a transformational programme.
“Our Senedd group will bring renewed energy and fresh ideas and I look forward to working with all my colleagues as we continue to build the case for independence. We will be a constructive but forensic opposition as we enter a crucial period of pandemic recovery.
“However, the sixth Senedd will be poorer without one of Wales’s most remarkable politicians. No one has given more to the party or to her community than Leanne Wood – an inspiring role model for so many.
“Leanne’s commitment to the Rhondda is unparalleled and I know she will continue to make an important contribution to the future of our nation and the pursuit of social justice which always has and always will drive her politics.
“Westminster’s attack on devolution is only just beginning and Wales needs a plan – that plan must focus on taking our own future into our own hands so we can build a nation that is fair and free.
TORYS CLAIM BEST RESULT EVER
The Welsh Conservatives say that they have secured the party’s best ever result in a Senedd election, winning 16 seats in the Welsh Parliament.
In a statement to the press the party said: “Today’s final election results have seen the Welsh Conservatives secure two regional list seats in both South Wales Central and South Wales East.
“Welsh Conservatives polled 289,802 votes (share up 5.0) across 40 constituencies – 26.1% of the vote – winning eight seats including gains in both the Vale of Clwyd and Brecon and Radnorshire.
“On the five regional lists, Welsh Conservatives secured 278,560 votes (share up 6.3), winning eight seats. The result will see the Senedd return its first ever female from a BAME background, with Welsh Conservatives’ Natasha Asghar making history with election in South Wales East.
Commenting, Welsh Conservative Senedd leader, Andrew RT Davies said: “Firstly, I’d like to say a huge thank you to our outstanding set of Welsh Conservative candidates, activists and staff who’ve worked incredibly hard throughout this campaign and secured the party’s best ever Senedd result.
“The team has gone above and beyond and deserve great credit for the positive campaign we’ve run right across Wales, and I am thrilled to see Natasha Asghar make history in South Wales East by becoming the first female from a BAME background to be elected to the Senedd.
“As a party we are also delighted to have secured constituency seats in the Vale of Clwyd and Brecon and Radnorshire, and increased seats on the regional lists, resulting in our highest ever representation in the Senedd with 16 members.
“It’s been an unconventional campaign and it’s clear incumbency and continuity has played a significant part. To that end, I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to Mark Drakeford and Welsh Labour on a successful campaign.
“The election has been fought in good spirit by political parties in Wales and I would like to pay a final word of thanks to the many officials across the country who’ve allowed this election to take place in a safe and effective manner.”
IMPACT OF PANDEMIC
Ian Price, director of CBI Wales, congratulated Labour. He said: “This is a critical time for the Welsh economy and the new parliament must have a laser-like focus on rebuilding from the devastating impact of the pandemic,” he said.
“That means all parties pulling together and working with business to protect jobs, rebuild livelihoods and create a fair and sustainable recovery that addresses the longstanding structural challenges our economy faces.”
Royal Town Planning Institute, largest professional body for town planners in the UK and Europe, commented on the election result saying: “The Welsh Labour Manifesto meets many of the issues raised by the RTPI, including tackling climate action, investing in public transport and active travel, and the delivery of quality affordable homes, including a focus on strengthening Welsh language communities.
“The manifesto commits to strengthening the autonomy and effectiveness of local government to make them more successful in delivering services. We have highlighted the need to invest in planning services to enable the delivery of Welsh Labour’s priorities.”
Speaking to the BBC, political commentator Prof Roger Awan-Scully said: “I think it’s been an astonishingly resilient performance by the Welsh Labour Party, amidst disasters for Labour elsewhere in the UK.
“The Conservatives are also performing strongly, but not quite bringing it home in terms of the number of constituency victories that they might have expected.
“For Plaid Cymru I think this has to be said to be a deeply disappointing election.”
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