Anger as more pressure is mounted to relax planning laws over fracking

Campaigners have reacted angrily to a plea from Tory MPs that UK planning rules are changed to make fracking easier.

By Tim Gavell
Friday, 8th April 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Friday, 8th April 2022, 9:50 am

Tory MPs have called for an easing of planning laws to allow fracking to go ahead where there is local support.

The backbench 1922 Committee on Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy urged ministers to create a “permissive planning regime” for both shale gas extraction and renewable energy developments such as wind farms.

Under the proposal, planning consent would require the support of a majority of residents in a local referendum.

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The fracking wells at Preston New Road have had a reprieve from being filled in as the Government considers the science behind shale gas extraction to see if it can be done without causing earth tremors

As an incentive they could be offered either free or highly subsidised energy or alternatively a share of the revenues from the scheme.

“No community or landowner should have new schemes forced upon them, but members believe there are good incentives available that could result in a more realistic and permissive approach to new developments,” the MPs said.

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The report by the committee, chaired by former environment secretary Dame Andrea Leadsom, came as the Government launched its own energy security strategy and after a period of sustained pressure by MPs and the onshore oil and gas industry to bring back fracking as gas prices rise.

The two fracking wells at Preston New Road were associated with a swarm of earth tremors and released greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere

The Government this week ordered the British Geological Survey to look again at the science around fracking to see if it can be carried out without causing earth tremors – the reason a temporary halt was called on the process of trying to extract gas from shale rock deep underground by injecting water and chemicals under high pressure.

But a spokeswoman for Frack Free Lancashire said: “It seems utterly extraordinary that, in the wake of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report urging a rapid move away from all fossil fuels, there are still calls for methane-spewing fracking to be resurrected in the UK, and for the planning restrictions to be eased further.

“Our experience here in Lancashire has shown that in excess of 10 years, fracking has produced zero commercially viable gas, communities overshadowed by undemocratic decisions along with unacceptable - and moreover - unpredictable seismic events that have caused property damage.

“We wish them the very best of luck in finding any community that is prepared to sign up for fracking in their area. The implications for traffic, noise, health, climate, earth tremor damage and pollution are horrific.

“There will be sustained and determined resistance against fracking wherever this failed industry tries to go.”