News from Kent Greens
Kent Greens Energy Profits Immoral In Face of Rising Winter Deaths
Fri, 29 Nov 2013
Kent Greens have blasted as "immoral" the massive 77% increase in the domestic profit rate of the Big Six energy companies (1) whilst excess winter deaths rose to 31,000 - a staggering 29% more than the previous year (2).
Kent Green Party Chair and European Parliamentary Candidate, Stuart Jeffrey, said: "It's immoral for energy companies to be increasing profit margins by such high rates when thousands of people across the country are needlessly dying each winter because they cannot afford to keep warm.
"Instead of talking about getting rid of the 'green crap', as Prime Minister David Cameron reportedly called fuel bill environmental levies, the Government should be rolling out a major programme of home insulation and energy efficiency focused on those most likely to be facing fuel poverty, or with medical conditions placing them at risk of cold-related death. There must also be an independent public enquiry into the vast profits made by the energy companies and steps taken to ensure that a greater portion is re-invested in ensuring that fuel poverty and excess winter deaths become a thing of the past."
Almost 7,000 Kent Households Fall Victim to Bedroom Tax
Thu, 28 Nov 2013
6,921 households in Kent have had their housing benefits cut as a result of the Government's bedroom tax according to figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (1).
The figures, which cover the period April until August 2013, are the first to identify how many households have lost housing benefit payments since the introduction of the bedroom tax in April 2013.
In August, the most recent period for which figures are available, 788 people living in Swale lost an average of £900 per year in housing benefit, making it the worst affected district in Kent.
The least badly affected district is Dartford, where 365 people have lost an average of £894 per year in benefits.
An estimated £6 million will have been slashed from Kent's housing benefit payments by the end of the first year of the bedroom tax. The average loss per Kent affected household has been calculated to be a staggering £868 per year.
Kent Green Party Chairman and European Parliamentary Candidate, Stuart Jeffrey said: "The bedroom tax is having a major impact on the most vulnerable and low-paid people in Kent. There are simply not enough smaller rented properties to move into, so people already living on a low income are being forced to cut back even further on essentials such as food, heating and clothing. This ill-conceived policy will force thousands of families in Kent into poverty."
Evidence is now beginning to emerge that many households caught by the bedroom tax are falling into rent arrears. A survey carried out by the National Housing Federation estimates that more than 50% of housing association tenants who are affected by the bedroom tax have fallen behind with rent since the introduction of this policy (2).
The Green Party opposes the Bedroom Tax. It is unfair and targets some of the most vulnerable and deprived people in society. The Party calls upon Kent Councils not to evict anyone falling into rent arrears as a consequence of the bedroom tax. The Green Party, alongside many charities, disabled groups and trade unions is campaigning for the immediate abolition of the bedroom tax.
Kent Greens Warn of Fracking Frenzy
Mon, 18 Nov 2013
Kent should ready itself for New Year "fracking frenzy", warns Thanet Green Party councillor, Ian Driver.
According to Driver, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will be selling off Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences (PEDLs) early next year, covering those areas of Kent not already subject to licensing (1).
A map produced by DECC shows that licences covering more than four fifths of Kent will be up for grabs (2). It is expected that companies such as Cuadrilla, notorious for its Balcombe drilling site, will be amongst those seeking rights to explore for shale and coal bed methane gas beneath the county's countryside.
Said Driver: "The sale of the licences will coincide with the publication of a report by the British Geological Survey (BGS) which will quantify the amount of shale and coal bed methane gas in Kent. The fieldwork for this report is already underway (3) and if, as many people predict, large reserves of gas are identified, the licences will be snapped up like hotcakes and Kent will see fracking frenzy."
Driver's views are echoed by Sevenoaks MP and Minister of State for Energy, Michael Fallon, who in an interview with the Daily Telegraph last week said that significant reserves of shale gas are likely to be found "right across the South - we're talking about Wiltshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, into Kent" and that "households right across the South should prepare for gas fracking to begin in their areas (3).
Driver predicts powerful opposition to gas exploration and extraction. "In East Kent, Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd was recently forced, by overwhelming public opposition, to withdraw three planning applications for exploratory drilling at Guston, Shepherds Well and Tilmanstone. Planning authority, Kent County Council, was inundated by hundreds of objections from local residents, all four parish councils covering the proposed drilling sites voted to oppose the plans and the Environment Agency, CPRE-Protect Kent and Dover MP Charlie Elphicke also objected to the plans.
"I expect to see many more examples of people power and community opposition developing across Kent and the rest of South East England, as the new licences are sold and planning applications to drill are submitted. Whatever the Government might say, people don't want their villages and towns torn up and disrupted by teams of modern day Yukon-style prospectors. Also compelling evidence continues to emerge that fracking and exploratory drilling can pollute water supplies, destroy our countryside, and poison the atmosphere. The Green Party is the only national political party to oppose the extraction of shale and coal bed methane gas and the use of fracking processes. We will work with local communities across Kent and the rest of the country to oppose the drillers and prevent their dangerous and damaging activities".
The opening of the 14th onshore oil and gas licensing round has been confirmed to be taking place in the first half of 2014.
The DECC map of the new licence areas (shown in light blue) is attached as a separate document to this e-mail.
See e-mail from Dr Phil Richards BGS
Dear Councillor Driver, BGS is currently conducting a geological review of the shale oil and shale gas resource potential of the Weald area on behalf of the Department of Energy and Climate Change. We are not conducting any CBM investigations in that area. Work has only just started, and will take many months yet. DECC will publish the report when it is finished, probably sometime next year. I understand that Thanet is beyond the area of study.
Dr Phil Richards, Manager, Hydrocarbons ,British Geological Survey, Murchison House
West Mains Rd Edinburgh, EH9 3LA
Interview with Michael Fallon MP, The Daily Telegraph, 8th November.
Kent Greens Welcome Withdrawal of Gas Drilling Applications
Sat, 09 Nov 2013
Kent Green Party has welcomed the decision of Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd to withdraw its planning applications for exploratory gas drilling at Guston, Shepherdswell and Tilmanstone in East Kent(1).
Thanet Green Party Councillor, and member of campaign group East Kent Against Fracking, Ian Driver, said: "The applications have been withdrawn because of overwhelming opposition. Four Parish Councils have voted against the drilling. The Environment Agency, countryside charity CPRE-Protect Kent and Dover MP Charlie Elphicke have all raised serious doubts about the plans. But most importantly local communities near to the drilling sites have organised their own campaign groups which have raised awareness about the dangers of the plans and encouraged people to object. Kent County Council has now received literally hundreds of objections from local residents. This fantastic example of people power has been the decisive factor in forcing Coastal Oil and Gas to withdraw."
But Driver warned against complacency. "It is very likely that Coastal Oil and Gas will re-submit applications in 2014 which will attempt to address the issues raised by the objections. So people need to be ready to resume opposition and get back on the campaign trail. The Green Party is the only national political party to oppose the extraction of shale and coal bed methane gas and associated fracking processes. We will have parliamentary and local council candidates in place by then, who will work tirelessly with local residents to oppose drilling for gas in East Kent."