As you read this, a monster of a bill is passing smoothly and quietly through Britain’s parliament. It’s so big and complex, and covers so many topics, that it makes a mockery of democracy. — George Monbiot
The Infrastructure Bill currently passing through Parliament includes a legal obligation on current and future governments to help trash the world’s climate – or in other words to “maximise economic recovery of UK petroleum”.
It would also change the trespass law to allow fracking companies to drill beneath people’s homes and land without their permission and to leave any substance or infrastructure in the land.
The Infrastructure Bill has already passed through the House of Lords, and is now in the House of Commons at the Committee Stage, where a closed Committee are discussing and amending it. When the Committee have reported back to the House of Commons (currently scheduled for 15 or 16 January 2015) it will then move to the Report Stage, where a new version of the Bill (with new section/clause numbers) will be released, and opened up for all MPs to make amendments to it, and vote on it.
It is not only oil, or benefit to the oil industry, basically it is a free for all for greedy developers and a massive attack on democracy, a massive assault on the environment. Once again, corrupt politicians dancing to the tune of their paymasters.
If the Bill becomes law the following will occur:
- Any public land (apart from that owned by the royal family and now our forests) can be transferred to the government’s Homes and Communities Agency, to be passed on to private firms to use for any kind of development, with all rights of public access removed
- The recovery of gas and oil – including fracking, coal gasification, coalbed methane extraction and geothermal – anywhere in Britain to be a legal objective
- The right to dump and abandon any substance whatsoever under any land (including radioactive and gases)
- The right to drill under any land, public or private
- Major projects (such as power stations, new towns, high-speed rail and motorways) to be decided on by government rather than councils, with communities also unlikely to be consulted
- Any species deemed non-native (including barn owls, red kites, goshawks) can be controlled or exterminated
- Councils given short time limits to enforce planning restrictions or their duties will be discharged by a panel of two government inspectors and a minister, giving developers free rein
- The Land Registry to be given major new powers to hold local registers, and be the judge, jury and executioner on land ownership
- Anyone building fewer than 50 houses in a development will no longer need to ensure they are zero carbon or eco-friendly
This turns on its head the principle the polluter shall. Instead of legislation obligating a clean up, we have passed into legislation that polluters have a legal right to pollute as they please and under no obligation to mount a clean up.
One only has to look at the level of pollution ChevronToxico has left in the Amazon to see how bad it can be.
The Infrastructure Bill will drive a coach and horses through any planning controls, removing what is at best only a fig leaf of local planning control, accountability to those on the extraction front line.
Infrastructure Bill creates a gravy train for major infrastructure projects like HS2 High Speed Rail Link London to Birmingham.
We know that to keep global temperature rise to below 2C, 80% of known carbon reserves have to be kept in the ground, and even 2C will lead to more extreme weather events.
Infrastructure Bill turns this on its head, a gung ho push to extract more not less.
11am Wednesday 14 January 2015, there will be a mass lobby of Parliament, with people going in to speak to their Members of Parliament directly about the Bill.
If you can’t attend, you can still write to your Member of Parliament about the Bill, asking them to support amendments that would remove the clauses on maximising recovery of oil and gas, and on changing the trespass laws, and on the other attacks on democracy.