Leader: Let us decide fracking

The leader of Lancashire County Council has written to Government ministers urging them to let Lancashire decide its own fracking future.
Coun Jennifer MeinCoun Jennifer Mein
Coun Jennifer Mein

She warned the government risks undermining trust in the democratic process if it seeks to snatch decision making powers from the county.

Jennifer Mein decided it was time to intervene after reading leaked reports of the Government’s determination to support the shale gas industry.

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Coun Mein said she had read the reports with “interest and concern” and highlighted how local people had shared their views with the council.

She said: “I would like to highlight my particular concern about any intention to take decision-making powers on shale gas related planning applications away from local communities.

“It is abundantly clear from the response of our communities to recent applications that there is considerable public interest in these matters.”

The council refused permission last year for fracking work at Roseacre Wood, near Elswick and Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

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Coun Mein sent her letter to Communities and Local Government Minister Greg Clark, Energy and Climate Change minister Amber Rudd and Elizabeth Truss, minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

It continued: “People from across Lancashire have invested significant time in expressing their views. The county council received and made publicly available a huge amount of relevant information about each application.

Residents, business people and a wide range of other individuals and organisations took time to consider it and gathered their own evidence, which they had a meaningful opportunity to present to councillors as part of the planning process.”

Coun Mein asked ministers to ensure “any changes to the planning regime on these matters do not serve to bypass local decision-making powers and to ensure that local communities are able to continue to have a strong voice in decisions which clearly affect them.

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“If the Government succeeds in accelerating this agenda, it should not do so without thought for the communities living and working near to fracking sites, wherever they may be.”

Shale gas company Cuadrilla is appealing against last summer’s refusal of planning permission for the Fylde sites.