I was going to mail this letter today privately, in the remote hope that the message actually might get through to our PM who would then have a sort of ‘Road to Damascus’ moment! Reading his article in the Telegraph yesterday I now doubt this very much, so I’m still posting it, but I’ve also posted it as a comment on his article. (You can ‘like’ the comment by clicking to show the PM’s press people who read these things that others agree – if you do of course!)
11th August 2013
Dear Mr Cameron,
I can quite understand the apparent advantages of encouraging fracking, but I do urge you to consider the following points:
1. Your government seriously misjudged the concern people have for their environment when the public woodlands sale was mooted. It was very wise to back off from that project quickly.
2. The same story is repeating itself with fracking. Although people like money, when the chips are down they don’t want their countryside ruined, their roads clogged with lorries, their water and air risking pollution. They want to protect their country – if necessary from the government who promised to be the ‘greenest ever’. Remember your party has 130-177,000 members, the National Trust has 3.8 million. People really care about the countryside.
3. Offers of a million, or more correctly a hundred thousand pounds, do not seem attractive to most people. They smack of desperation, and the need to bribe a community. If you will forgive the image, it looks like a man offering sweets to children while his friends nip round the back and tip chemicals in the soil.
4. The tax breaks for fracking companies – from a PR point of view this is a disaster. The public associates tax breaks with attempts to shore up ailing industries. It gives the wrong signal, and people are starting to realise that this highlights the investment risks – that profitability is not guaranteed. Its timing is also disastrous – just as people are becoming aware of the tax-dodging by big corporations, they see that the tax payer will be effectively funding the degradation of their environment.
It’s not too late to back away from this. If you do, saving face by saying ‘We have listened to concerns’, setting up enquiries etc., and then ensuring it never happens, the British people, and history, will perceive you not as weak, but as a champion, a defender, of the landscape of Britain. If you continue to support fracking, your popularity will wane, at the first sign of problems – earth tremors, chemical spills, damage of any kind – you will lose support massively, will lose the next election, and be remembered as the man who was so weak he gave in to financial interests and the man who didn’t care about the land he was supposed to be governing.
Do please assure me that you will be taking the former rather than the latter course.