Senior Croydon Conservative councillor Simon “I’m Cheap But I’m Not Free” Hoar says he “doesn’t see anything wrong” with allowing oil and gas multi-nationals to drill under people’s homes with exploratory fracking.
Prime Minister David Cameron fired the starting gun on fracking for cash-strapped local authorities last month when he announced that councils which grant planning permission to gas exploration through fracking will be allowed to collect and spend 100 per cent of the business rates collected from such schemes. The message from Cameron was clear: make up the difference in the government grants we are cutting by ignoring the best interests of your residents.
As Inside Croydon reported last year, Northdown Energy has already secured the licences to explore for shale gas in Croydon, with areas to the south of the borough, especially in the Green Belt around Coulsdon, thought to be prime locations for the industrial process of high-pressure pumping of water and chemicals into the sub-strata of rocks in an effort to break free reserves of gas.
Fracking in the United States has succeeded in finding some gas reserves, but when carried out in residential areas it has become notorious for causing minor earthquakes and polluting water supplies with the toxic chemicals, including arsenic, used in the process.
Property prices in areas where fracking has been allowed, in this country as well as in the United States, have been drastically reduced.
Hoar, the £43,339 a year Croydon Council cabinet member for “community safety and public protection” is now loyally following the party line laid out recently when London Mayor Boris Johnson said that, “If reserves of shale can be exploited in London we should leave no stone unturned, or unfracked, in the cause of keeping the lights on.”
Hoar is the Tory councillor in Waddon who in 2010 lied to the electorate to get re-elected, promising to oppose the building of a waste incinerator in or near the borough, before going off and voting in favour of the controversial Beddington Lane facility.
Since then, Councillor Hoar has demonstrated a serious potential conflict of interests by acting as a delivery boy for Viridor, the company eager to secure permission for the £1 billion, 25-year incinerator scheme, by hand-delivering leaflets (full of some rather dubious claims, poor science and half-truths) around his ward in the Croydon South parliamentary constituency.
Hoar has always refused to answer any questions about whether he derived any personal benefits for making the Viridor deliveries.
Now, Hoar is backing fracking in Croydon. “Fracking is a good potential way to go forward to the future,” Hoar said at the weekend.
“The potential we see coming through from America means that with fracking we can reduce energy bills, this being especially beneficial to the people in fuel poverty.” That’s considerate of a man who last night, at a Croydon cabinet meeting, voted for a significant increase to council rents across the borough.
“As long as all the planning and environmental regulations have been adhered I don’t see anything is wrong with it in Croydon,” Hoar said, going on to underline his poor grasp of the science and engineering involved in fracking when he added, “Most of what they pump through is basically water.”
But Hoar’s political opponents have warned against allowing fracking in populated and urban areas. Andrew Pelling, a Labour party candidate who will be standing in Waddon against Hoar at the Town Hall elections in May, said, “Councillor Hoar is intent on destroying the local environment.
“He is already despoiling Waddon for generations to come by going back on his promise to oppose a local incinerator. Now he wants to allow drilling close to homes in the borough.
“I oppose urban fracking in Croydon.”
- Frack off: oil company has licence to explore in Croydon
- Arsenic with no grace: fracking campaign issues warnings
- £2.50 per person – the price Viridor puts on your health
Coming to Croydon
- Mark Steel at Ashcroft Theatre, Feb 12
- Purley Swimathon: Feb 13
- Croydon Arts Network meeting, Feb 15
- Chinese New Year children’s event, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 18
- This War! St Gertrude’s Theatre group, Feb 19-22
- Welsh myths children’s event, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 20
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 20
- Mr Pooter comes to Croydon, Feb 20-22
- Warm and Well event, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 22
- Stop the Incinerator fund-raiser, Feb 24
- Fairtrade Film night, Antenna Cafe, Haynes Lane, Feb 27
- Fairtrade event, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 1
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Mar 3
- Patchwork and quilting workshop, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 3
- Fairtrade stall at Food Market, Haynes Lane, Mar 8
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, Mar 15
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 20
- Croydon Half-marathon, Mar 30
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