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C of E statement dismays protesters

30 August 2013


Alternative: the Churches' statement calls for greater use of renewable energy sources, such as wind

Alternative: the Churches' statement calls for greater use of renewable energy sources, such as wind

RATHER than buying into the unlikely prospect of fracking's leading to lower energy prices, the Church of England should be calling for a transition to renewable energy sources, a coalition of Churches said last week.

The statement, by Steve Hucklesby of the joint public-issues team of the Baptist, Methodist, and URC Churches, was published on Thursday of last week, in response to a statement from the chairman of the Mission and Public Affairs Council, Philip Fletcher ( News, 23 August).

Mr Fletcher had said that blanket opposition to fracking "fails to take into account those who suffer most" as a result of high fuel costs, and pointed to "a number of balancing considerations which need to be taken into account when coming to a view". Mr Hucklesby said that fracking would "probably not" lower fuel costs, citing a press conference at which a spokesman of Cuadrilla, the energy company, said that the impact would be "basically insignificant".

The three Churches "maintain that fuel poverty is a critical issue in its own right but should not be a determining factor in the consideration of a future UK energy mix". Mr Fletcher's call to "place considerations such as the creation of jobs and energy self-sufficiency alongside the impact of fossil fuels on climate change has clear political impact on the current debate on energy policy", Mr Hucklesby said.

The need to avoid "catastrophic climate change" presents "serious, maybe even surmountable, ethical challenges" to fracking. Churches that support fracking must at least insist that the shale gas extracted was used sustainably.

As the Energy Bill is currently being debated, he said: "It would be great to hear a perspective from the Church of England over the coming months on the transition to an energy mix based around clean, affordable and reliable renewable energy and the limitations on the role of gas in this context."

In a letter to the Church Times, James Granger of Fuel Poverty Action described Mr Fletcher's comments on fracking and fuel poverty as "alarming". Fuel Poverty Action had supported protests against fracking, which was "a distraction from the real solution of energy efficiency and renewable energy, which the government's own research shows would save us hundreds of pounds on our fuel bills, while also tackling climate change".


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