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Fracking expansion in UK would leave Coalition's green credentials 'in tatters', say campaigners


Anti-fracking campaigners will deliver a letter to 10 Downing Street as protests take place in London today.

The activists are calling for a ban on exploration and development of shale gas and coal bed methane.

Demonstrators said they will erect a 7.2 metre high "fracking rig" outside parliament in central London to protest against the expansion of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas into the UK.

Activists said they will also build a 200 metre "oil pipeline" from the Canadian High Commission to the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square to protest against the Keystone XL pipeline being built to transport Canadian Tar Sands oil to the US.

And campaigners from across the country will deliver a letter to 10 Downing Street calling for a ban on fracking.

"In an effort to step up the focus of attention on this harmful technique and its effect on people, landscape and ecosystems in Britain, residents of Sussex, Falkirk, Belfast, the Fylde, the Ribble Estuary and the Vale of Glamorgan have come together as a UK-wide deputation to ask for action, not words, on this crucial subject," the group, Britain & Ireland Frack Free, said in a statement.

"The credentials of the 'greenest Government ever' are already in tatters and to allow fracking in the UK would be the final nail in the coffin for Cameron's green agenda."

At 8am this morning activists from the group Frack Off London said they dressed in orange boiler suits and, wearing gas masks, erected a 20 foot drilling rig outside the Chelsea home of Lord John Browne in protest at his involvement in gas development.

Lord Browne, chairman of UK fracking company Cuadrilla Resources, is also a non-executive in the Cabinet Office.

Adella Mason, a campaigner with Frack Off London, said: "As chairman of Cuadrilla, Browne has a direct financial incentive to push fracking in the UK.

"He works in the Cabinet Office, the nerve centre of government decision-making, from where he hires corporate cronies to influence policy."

A Scotland Yard spokesman said he was not aware of any arrests made over the protest.

Greenpeace said today it had undertaken new analysis and found that the Government had earmarked nearly two thirds of England for potential shale gas drilling sites.

John Sauven, Greenpeace executive director, said: "Two thirds of England, including large swathes of countryside, is now under active consideration for a risky, polluting, expensive form of fossil fuel extraction.

"If George Osborne stands up on Wednesday and paints shale gas as a silver bullet for the British economy, or for bill payers, he will be misleading the public.

"The potential for shale gas to bring down bills is overhyped, while experts agree local opposition is a serious threat to the industry's viability.

"The coalition bust-up over wind energy will pale in comparison to the political spats that are likely to occur if George Osborne tries to push ahead with gas fracking in the heartlands of England's countryside."