Oscar hopeful Mark Ruffalo shines spotlight on fracking
Oscar nominated actor Mark Ruffalo has called on the Prime Minister to abandon fracking and leave fossil fuels in the ground.
A prominent opponent of fracking in the US, Ruffalo warned David Cameron he was making "a legacy mistake" in supporting the controversial process of extracting gas by hydraulic fracturing.
Ruffalo, who has attracted critical acclaim for his role in the film Spotlight, and is nominated for best supporting actor at this year's Oscars, made the remarks in an interview with environmental pressure group Friends Of The Earth.
On Tuesday a planning inspector will hear energy firm Cuadrilla's appeal against last summer's rejection of plans for exploratory fracking in west Lancashire by county councillors.
In a direct message to the PM, Ruffalo said: "Mr Cameron you are making an enormous mistake, and it's a legacy mistake, because there is no fracking that can be done safely.
"Today we are at the precipice of a renewable energy revolution. This is the new economy. We had 200 countries from around the world all agree that it's time to leave fossil fuels in the ground.
"This is where all new wealth is going to being created, this is where new jobs are to be created, and not only that but your people don't want it.
"You have already told them once before that if they didn't want it you wouldn't push them to take it. And you're turning back on your word, sir. What is a politician if he is not credible?
"So I would say to you, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to honour your people, to honour their will but also to take them into the renewable energy future of the world."
Ruffalo was a vocal support of the fracking ban in New York State and has similarly appealed to President Barack Obama to ditch fracking and instead focus on renewable energy.
Donna Hume, Friends Of The Earth senior campaigner, said: "David Cameron is indeed turning his back on the people of Lancashire by ignoring their local democratic decision to reject fracking.
"The Government admits that the more people know about fracking, the more they oppose it. That's why Mark Ruffalo, who has seen the impacts of fracking first-hand, doesn't want Lancashire to suffer the same impacts as so many states in the US.
"Mark Ruffalo is right. Mr Cameron must listen to the people of Lancashire and not force this risky and unpopular industry on the county or anywhere else in England."
Lancashire, thought to hold major shale reserves and where fracking had been under way before being halted because of earthquakes, has been seen as the most likely bet for getting the industry going.
But the Government's backing for the development of shale gas in the UK received a blow last June when councillors turned down schemes to drill and frack for shale gas between Blackpool and Preston.
One scheme at Roseacre was opposed due to traffic concerns, while councillors went against the advice of their own planning officials for the second scheme at Little Plumpton and rejected it because of adverse landscape and noise impacts.
The planning inspectorate inquiry starts on Tuesday at Blackpool FC Hotel & Conference Centre. It is expected to last five weeks.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) said: "We are backing shale because it's good for our energy security and will help create jobs and growth.
"There is no question that we need natural gas in the UK and if just 10% of the estimated gas in shale rock could be recovered, it would be enough to meet our energy demand for almost 40 years.
"We are encouraging safe exploration so we can know for certain how much is there and how much we can get out of the ground."