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Energy policy should be decided by evidence and analysis, Prospect tells TUC

TUC delegates praised the work of Environment Agency staff during the winter of 2013-14. However, one sentence in an amendment turned the motion about flood resilience into a debate about fracking.



The amendment said: “Congress agrees to continue to consult TUC affiliates about a just transition to a low carbon economy, including a moratorium on extreme energy such as shale gas extraction (fracking).”

General secretary Mike Clancy said Prospect was neither for or against fracking.  “We are conscious this is a controversial issue, but argue it is one that should be decided by evidence and analysis.”

He said Prospect supported the core sentiments of the motion – celebrating the work of its members in the Environment Agency and all those who contributed to restoring public services; resilience and how to achieve it and a just transition to a low carbon economy. The union was also comfortable with TUC policy on continuing consultation on the composition of a balanced energy policy.

“However, we oppose predetermined outcomes and conclude that the amendment to this motion, embodying undefined phrases like ‘extreme energy’ and the call for a ‘moratorium’ take policy beyond current boundaries.

“This motion should be known for highlighting the consequences of environmental change and the investment needed for our national response.

“It is not about the associated but complex hard choices in energy policy, where unions should examine the case and apply our members’ expertise.

“If forms of energy we have reservations about become a reality we should ensure they are properly regulated in the public interest. This is what we are good at,” he concluded.

The original motion from the Fire Brigades Union applauded the firefighters, paramedics, civil servants, water and other utility workers, local government, transport workers and many others who helped those affected by last winter’s flooding.

The motion, which was carried, called on the government to:

  • reverse all cuts to flood resilience – from flood defence to emergency response – while not jeopardising other functions such as pollution regulation and enforcement
  • implement the Pitt review recommendations in full, including a statutory duty on the fire and rescue service to respond to major flooding
  • heed the warnings of the Committee on Climate Change that three-quarters of existing flood defences are inadequately maintained due to shortage of funds
  • introduce statutory rights for workplace environmental reps
  • reverse cuts in the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the Environment Agency

Congress also called on affiliates and union reps to integrate extreme weather and climate adaptation plans into collective bargaining.