Corbyn: Well done Lancashire for standing up to frackers

The audience at Blackpool Winter Gardens responded enthusiastically after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's speech
The audience at Blackpool Winter Gardens responded enthusiastically after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's speech
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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has congratulated Lancashire residents and the county council for standing up to fracking.

Mr Corbyn made his remarks in Blackpool after addressing a rally attended by 500 trade unionists and Labour supporters in the Winter Gardens.

Fracking has provoked strong emotions among some residents in Lancashire

Fracking has provoked strong emotions among some residents in Lancashire

The recently-elected leader said he was opposed to shale gas extraction in principle.

Cuadrilla’s applications to frack for shale gas at Little Plumpton, near Blackpool, and Roseacre Wood, near Elswick, were rejected by Lancashire County Council this summer.

An appeal will be heard next year.

In the meantime the Government has continued to support the shale gas industry and has been accused of relaxing rules and regulations to help fracking get the go-ahead.

There appears to be a lot of people who are against fracking and well done to them and to Lancashire County Council for their opposition to it

Mr Corbyn said he was “worried” about fracking.

He added: “There appears to be a lot of people who are against fracking and well done to them and to Lancashire County Council for their opposition to it.”

Mr Corbyn was in the resort for the North West Labour Party’s annual conference at the Imperial Hotel.

More than 800 delegates, including Deputy Leader Tom Watson , were attending along with fellow regional leaders and MPs.

Later Mr Corbyn attended a TUC/Labour party rally in the Winter Gardens, where there was massive vocal opposition to the Government’s Trade Union Bill, which opponents say will destroy workers’ rights and make it extremely difficult to strike.

Speakers also attacked the proposed removal of tax credits for working families.

He was introduced by Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden, who said thousands of local residents would be affected by benefits cuts, and the resort was also facing 40 per cent budget cuts.

Taking to the stage to loud applause, Mr Corbyn thanked Mr Marsden for his work as an MP and for the party. He also thanked him for nominating him as leader – “that was a big help!”.

The Labour leader said he was proud to be a member of a trade union and was delighted that the TUC and Labour were working together to fight some of the Tory Government’s more extreme policies.

He said austerity was not the only way – there were alternative ways without punishing the poor.

He said: “This is a political choice they (the Government) have made – tax cuts for the rich. We are a party that is challenging the austerity budget. You can invest your way to growth, and improve the living standards of the poorest, not the richest.”

Mr Corbyn said the battle against tax credits was gathering momentum.

“We are not going to let them do it!” he said.

Mr Corbyn said most people in the room wanted to see a democratically-elected House of Lords – but he congratulated them for stalling the Tories’ tax credits plan. He said he felt it was right to ask the Labour members of the House of Lords to vote it down,and they did.

Speaking afterwards to the Evening Post, Mr Corbyn said he was “worried” about fracking and well aware of the ongoing battle over shale gas exploration in Lancashire.

The Government has openly said shale gas should be given a chance. And only days after a Commons committee voted to make changes to allow fracking to take place more than 1,200 metres below sites including national parks and sites of special scientific interest.

Mr Corbyn said he was concerned about pollution, the effect on the environment and possible earth tremors. He said Labour was looking to promote safe alternative sources of energy.

Asked about the Government’s support for shale gas in principle, he said: “It’s fraught with difficulties. I realise there are people that think it’s a good idea, but there are many against it.”

Mr Corbyn was also asked about Trident and the possible implications for the defence industry in the UK and in Lancashire where around 10,000 people are employed by BAE Systems making the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Hawk and parts of the F-35..

Mr Corbyn is on record saying he wants to scrap Britain’s nuclear deterrent, which could lead to thousands of jobs lost.

Mr Corbyn pointed out that Trident and the building of Eurofighter were two different issues and needed to be deal with separately in the defence spending review.

He said there had to be a debate about Trident, and if it was wound up, he would want to find work for all the skilled staff affected.

He said: “We are looking at diversifying and supporting them.

“We don’t want people to lose their jobs or their skills. There are other defence needs outside of Trident.”