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Row after Kent County Council reject grant for East Kent Against Fracking conference

By Emily Stott

A row has broken out after Kent County Council rejected a grant to cover the cost of a fracking conference.

The campaign group, East Kent Against Fracking (EKAF) applied for the grant to help fund a conference which is being held in October to raise awareness of what fracking could mean for Kent.

The application was supported by county councillor Mike Eddy but was turned down by KCC and now EKAF is demanding to know why.

Chairman, Rosemary Rechter said: “Following the application’s refusal I wrote an open letter to KCC leader Paul Carter in which I suggested that the authority is serving to stifle important discussion on fracking when instead it should be encouraging an open and informed debate.

“I understand that cabinet member, Cllr Mike Hill refused to sign off on the application because it represented ‘a particular viewpoint’ but in fact our application clearly stated that “our day long conference aims to permit the airing of both sides of this controversial debate.”

Mrs Rechter claims that she was informed by two county councillors that it is highly unusual for members’ grants to be refused.

She added: “I have received only a response from Cllr David Brazier which studiously ignored all mention of the grant. This is wholly unsatisfactory.”

Cllr Ian Driver, an EKAF committee member and Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for South Thanet, said: “In September last year I accused KCC of failing to properly consult with the residents of Guston, Shepherdswell and Tilmanstone about applications for exploratory drilling by Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd.

“At the time Cllr Brazier responded by describing my claims as “utter nonsense” but it would appear he is showing the same contempt for Rosemary Rechter’s request for information as to why KCC has refused this grant.”

Rosie Rechter, of East Kent Against Fracking
Rosie Rechter, of East Kent Against Fracking

Julie Wassmer, a member of EKAF explained that if Cllr Brazier’s response was the equivalent to having a door slammed in their face then EKAF would be opening it.

Last November, Coastal Oil and Gas Ltd withdrew its applications following requests from the Environment Agency for information as to how the company would protect the water supply but the company still has an live application for exploration in Woodnesborough.

Cllr Mike Hill said: “The members’ grant application was refused because it did not meet the relevant criteria.”

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