John McDonnell MP voted for a moratorium on fracking at the report stage of the Infrastructure Bill on Monday 26th January
John McDonnell said "I am proud to have voted against fracking because I am worried about the impact on our environment and the long term threat of climate change. Other European countries have said no to fracking and we should follow suit."
Although the moratorium did not receive enough votes it is evident that a growing number of MPs want to act to protect communities and the climate from the high risks of fracking.
Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.
The process is carried out vertically and horizontally to the rock layer. The process can create new pathways to release gas or can be used to extend existing channels.
The extensive use of fracking in the US, where it has revolutionised the energy industry, has prompted environmental concerns.
The first is that fracking uses huge amounts of water that must be transported to the fracking site, at significant environmental cost. The second is the worry that potentially carcinogenic chemicals used may escape and contaminate groundwater around the fracking site. The industry suggests pollution incidents are the results of bad practice, rather than an inherently risky technique.
There are also worries that the fracking process can cause small earth tremors. Two small earthquakes of 1.5 and 2.2 magnitude hit the Blackpool area in 2011 following fracking.
"It's always recognised as a potential hazard of the technique", says Professor Ernie Rutter from the University of Manchester, "But they're unlikely to be felt by many people and very unlikely to cause any damage."
Finally, environmental campaigners say that fracking is simply distracting energy firms and governments from investing in renewable sources of energy, and encouraging continued reliance on fossil fuels.
Friends of the Earth Campaigner, Rose Dickinson, said:
“We welcome John McDonnell MP’s vote this week for a fracking moratorium, which if passed, would have protected communities up and down the country from the risks of fracking, and prevented a new fossil fuel from adding to the crisis of climate change.
Although the moratorium was defeated, John McDonnell MP is amongst a growing number of MPs who are listening to the hundreds of thousands of people across the country that are united against fracking.
As the evidence continues to show that fracking poses risks to public health and the environment, we urgently need to follow in the footsteps of Scotland, New York State, the Netherlands and France by putting a stop to fracking now”.