John Knight's August 2019 Talking Politics column for Macclesfield Express.

11 August 2019

Two weeks ago, torrential rain left much of the Macclesfield area under water.  Although, as far as we know, no-one was seriously injured, homes and businesses in Poynton, Adlington, Bollington, Prestbury and Hurdsfield were inundated; the damage could take weeks and months to repair and woe betide anyone who wasn’t adequately insured.  The brand-new A555 was partly underwater (as campaigners had long warned about), as was the A34 Alderley Edge bypass.  Over the hill, Whaley Bridge residents had to be evacuated for five days, while the Toddbrook Reservoir threatened to unleash 300 million gallons of water on the town, as heavy rain caused serious damage (incidentally, seven years after British Waterways, the public body responsible for its maintenance, was abolished).

While it is impossible to pin particular weather incidents down to climate change, it is a fact that “extreme” weather events are becoming commonplace.  The last 21 years have witnessed the ten hottest years on record, while the ten coldest years all fell before 1930.  The International Panel on Climate Change  (IPCC) only last week warned that efforts to curb greenhouse gas-emissions and the impacts of global warming will fall significantly short without drastic changes in global land use, agriculture and human diets.

We cannot continue with “business as usual”.  Cheshire East Council must urgently reconsider their major road-building programme - combating climate change means making fewer car journeys, not more.  Serious efforts must be made to develop geothermal energy at Leighton, as part of a massive move away from burning fossil fuels.  Globally, shifting agricultural production away from livestock could not only help reduce global warming and improve human health, but also free up land for managed rewilding, which can greatly reduce the risk of flooding downstream, as well as going some way to restoring a richer, biodiverse natural environment.

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Greens challenge Energy Secretary after shock revelation from frackers Cuadrilla

Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Jonathan Bartley has today (21 June) sent a letter (below) to Greg Clarke MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to highlight the Party’s far-reaching concerns for the safety of the local community in the vicinity of Cuadrilla’s exploratory fracking site at Preston New Road in Lancashire.

The letter follows a meeting between Bartley and two directors from Cuadrilla, where he put questions from the community to them. Bartley is concerned both by the lack of information about emergency plans provided to the residents and by significant questions over whether or not there is even an evacuation plan in the event of a well blow out or other accident.

Bartley said:

“We’re calling on the Secretary not to make a decision over whether to grant a licence to frack until the matter has been investigated thoroughly and safety concerns are addressed. The fact that local residents don’t even know if there’s even a proper plan in place for emergencies - let alone evacuation - is deeply concerning.

“It would be completely unacceptable and be playing fast and loose with people’s safety to ignore these issues. The Secretary of State clearly shouldn’t make a decision on whether Cuadrilla should be allowed to frack until these serious questions are answered and the concerns of local people are addressed.”

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