Anger over as Government consultation starts to speed up fracking

Anti-fracking campaigners have urged people to have a say on Government plans to take decisions on shale gas drilling bids away from local authorities.

Friday, 20th July 2018, 5:36 pm
Updated Friday, 20th July 2018, 5:42 pm
Cuadrilla's drilling rig at Preston New Road

The government has launched two consultations to fast-track fracking bids. People have until October 25 to take part.

One proposal is to allow shale gas exploration schemes to go-ahead without the need for a planning application by making them “permitted development.”

The second is to treat full shale gas production projects as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects which would take them out of local authority control and hand decisions to the Secretary of State.

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Daniel Carey-Dawes, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, which has an online petition against the plans, said: “These proposals would be a complete perversion of the planning system and trample over the rights of communities - all to fast-track an industry bringing environmental risks that would massively outweigh any suggested ‘benefit’ to our energy security."

Barbara Richardson, from Roseacre, said: This a desperate attempt by the government to forge ahead with their own agenda to frack for shale gas in England and take decisions away from local authorities and local residents. This is an full on assault on local democracy.

"Greg Clark himself said, 'local people, businesses and councils are at the heart of communities and the Government is determined to put them back in control with the choices and chances to shape the future of their local area'.

"Really? They know fracking is unpopular, with council after council refusing planning permission and for good reason, so they have to try and find a way round it. This is their answer. To change the rules. They will meet significant opposition."

Ken Cronin from onshore gas industry body UKOOG, said: "We welcome the consultations launched today, as laid out in May's Written Ministerial Statement. We will engage fully with the process and shall be submitting a response in due course.

"It must be remembered that planning applications for onshore gas developments have gone from taking three months to over a year to assess, leaving communities with uncertainty and councils under-resourced. To ensure that the UK gets the flexible, reliable and secure source of gas it needs, we have to improve those timescales.

"With five separate regulators ensuring we meet our environmental and operational obligations in everything from well design to traffic management, the Government's plans only seek to ensure that communities, the industry and the nation aren't left in the dark."