From Mr Simon Court
Sir, - A day is a long time in politics, especially in the
politics of the C of E. On 16 August, the Christian Ecology Link's
Google discussion group was buzzing with press reports of a
mineral-rights grab by the Church Commissioners. Was this a step
towards profiting from fracking? Surely the Church Commissioners
were not going to embark on another questionable investment
adventure to add to their recent Wonga woes? Later that day, a
statement was issued by the Church of England to "place recent
media reports into context".
The communiqué from the PR gurus at Lambeth Palace assures us
that everything is OK after all, because, we are told, "The Church
of England has no official policy either for or against hydraulic
fracturing (known as 'fracking')." Nevertheless, "there is a danger
of viewing fracking through a single issue lens and ignoring the
I understand this sentence to mean: "You are a bunch of
single-issue environmentalists whom we can safely ignore because
you are incapable of understanding the wider considerations." As a
long-suffering Anglican, I should by now be used to being
patronised and ignored by the hierarchy.
The public statement slapping down those who dare to oppose the
Church's future involvement in the Government's pursuit of fracking
comes from the chair of the Church of England's group on Mission
and Public Affairs, Philip Fletcher, who is also a member of the
Mr Fletcher should know something about the problems presented
by fracking, as he has another job listed on the C of E website,
chair of OFWAT, the water regulator. Needing to secure copious
supplies of water, and permission to dump their toxic waste water,
the frackers' lobbyists must be working hard to cultivate positive
relationships with OFWAT.
Having heard from the chair, it would be interesting to hear the
views of some of the other mem-bers of the Mission and Public
Affairs Group, such as David Shreeve, the Environmental Consultant
to the Archbishops' Council, and Dr Jill Hopkinson, National Rural
Officer for the Church of England, both of whom do outstanding work
on environment and rural issues.
It seems an argument over fracking within the Church of England
is starting to emerge into the public domain. To those who find
themselves trying to navigate a way forward, might I suggest the
Anglican Communion Environmental Network as a source of wisdom and
information. It is also worth restating the fifth Mark of Mission,
to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and to sustain and
renew the life of the earth.
Eastgate Cottage, Perrys Lane
Cawston, Norwich NR10 4HJ
From the Revd Dr Mark Betson
Sir, - I am writing to congratulate the Bishop of Chichester, Dr
Martin Warner, on his recent statement with regard to the
The word "fracking" is a goldmine in the press for innuendo,
which is a shame, as it overshadows some of the very important
questions about our energy future which need to be asked. Well done
to the Bishop for pointing out that a "more challen-ging" debate
needs to be had.
Where did all the gas and oil we had before go? Did we use it
well? Why do we need to work so hard to squeeze more out of our
wells now? What happens when this runs out in a few decades? How
are our children and grandchildren going to keep the lights on -
especially if they are not top earners?
Watching the television coverage recently, I didn't see these
issues debated much; so it was good to hear Dr Warner point out
that more needed to be asked. I wonder if this challenging debate
is going on with those making policy; or will political expediency
rule the day?
The Vicarage, Handcross Road
Plummers Plain, Horsham
West Sussex RH13 6NU