Over Wyre Focus - Dec 2014

Happy New Year! I hope that 2015 will be a successful and prosperous year for you.

Before Christmas I was delighted to invite David and Ruth Pye, the owners of Old Holly Farm, to represent the constituency at the Lancashire Day celebrations at the House of Commons. Old Holly Farm is a working farm but has diversified to provide fantastic play facilities for children as well as a great tea room and farm shop. Businesses from across the County came to Parliament to demonstrate the variety and quality of products from Lancashire. It was a great occasion.

You may be aware that at the end of last year the Energy Secretary announced the end to the moratorium on Shale Gas exploration was lifted. This means for us in Lancashire that, subject to the necessary permits being obtained, Caudrilla will be able to resume their exploration.

The Government is putting in place new controls to minimise any future seismic tremors or disturbance to those living and working nearby through. These measures will be applied to all future fracking operations for shale gas. I have also sought further assurances from the Secretary of State about the potential risks to the water supply. I pointed out that my constituents in the Bleasdale area and Bowland forest draw their water from their own boreholes and how they are anxious about how fracking at the Singleton Shale Gas site could affect them. I have pressed the Secretary of State to ensure that his Department monitors the exploration process throughout Lancashire, including the Bleasdale and Forest of Bowland.

I will be meeting the Environment Agency again to try and insist that there is constant monitoring of the water at boreholes in the Bleasdale area. I will also be meeting with Caudrilla to impress upon them the importance of ensuring the risk to the water supply and geology is constantly mitigated.

Should the fracking continue, I am very keen for my constituents and the local community to have proper tangible benefits from the exploration. To that end, I am meeting with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in January to call for a community fund to be set up, similar to the scheme set up as a result of the expansion of potash mining in Yorkshire. I do not want to see all the proceeds of shale gas going to the shareholder or Treasury!

When Wyre Borough Council sought to undertake a consultation on leisure provision across the Borough a year ago, some people thought this was with a view to closing some of our precious facilities. As I said at the time, this was never the Council’s intention. I am sure all will welcome the news that Wyre Councillors, have in fact, decided to invest £7.3 million in the leisure centres in Garstang, Poulton and Thornton: this is good news!

In the coming months we should learn the outcome of the Canatxx/Halite planning application. You can be confident that I will be continuing to stress to Minister’s the many reasons why this application should be rejected and the strength of local opinion against the plans.

If there is any matter with which I can help you, please do not hesitate to contact me on 0207 219 5804 or 01995 672977. Alternatively, you can write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA or by email wallaceb@parliament.uk