Green Party members in Melton are celebrating this week after winning their campaign to stop large rural areas of the borough being used for fracking.
The government has halted all fracking, a process where liquid is pumped deep underground at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release gas or oil trapped within it, after a new scientific study conducted by the Oil and Gas Authority outlined it was not possible to rule out ‘unacceptable’ consequences for residents living near fracking sites.
Ministers also warned that future fracking exploration projects, such as the licence granted for areas north of Melton, including the Vale of Belvoir, in 2015, would not be supported.
A licence was offered four years ago to London-based Hutton Energy for sites taking in the villages of Thorpe Arnold, Welby, Saxelbye, Wartnaby, Holwell, Scalford, Goadby Marwood, Long Clawson, Hose, Eastwell, Eaton and Waltham.
The company had already been granted licences for fracking within other blocks of land covering more villages in the Vale, including Harby, Stathern, Colston Bassett, Plungar, Barkestone, Redmile, Langar, Barnstone and Granby (PEDL 204) and Knipton, Belvoir, Woolsthorpe-by-Belvoir, Muston and Bottesford (PEDL 208) and Cropwell Bishop and Cropwell Butler (PEDL 254).
Another company, Egdon Resources, had a licence covering a block of land (PEDL 201) to the north west of Melton, comprising villages including Old Dalby, Upper Broughton, Hickling, Willoughby-on-the-Wolds and Wymeswold.
Exploratory work and public consultations would have taken place before any drilling was started but Green Party members have consistently argued that the practice would cause earthquakes, damage the environment and put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere with the prospect of watercourses being polluted if there was a leak in the well.
Reacting to the news of fracking being halted, Alastair McQuillan, of the Rutland and Melton Green Party said: “I’m delighted that the decade-long campaign against fracking appears to be over.
“Our communities didn’t want fracking in their neighbourhood, they knew it wasn’t safe and the Oil and Gas Authority confirmed that they were right.
“It confirms what we have been saying for years, that fracking is both bad for our community as well as our environment.”
At the moment there is no permanent ban on fracking, which was initially viewed as a method of addressing the need to find natural energy resources to sustain UK demand.
But Business and Energy Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, said all fracking would be halted until compelling new evidence could be found to dispel the concerns over the threat that the practice could lead to earthquakes.