Conservative councillors 'at odds with government on plans to fast-track fracking'

| 7th August 2018
Fracking in progress

Fracking in progress

Wikimedia
Polling reveals that 80 percent of Conservative councillors believe that fracking companies should be required to submit a planning application before drilling. MARIANNE BROOKER reports

It is clear that the government does not have the backing of its own local councillors for its proposals to fast-track fracking.

An overwhelming majority - 80 percent - of Conservative Party councillors believe that planning applications should be required before drilling when representing areas where fracking companies have a license to drill and explore for gas, new polling published by the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Friends of the Earth reveals.

The poll was carried out in the wake of the government’s announcement that it will be consulting on whether the use of non-hydraulic fracturing in shale gas exploration should be treated as something known as ‘permitted development’.

This means fracking companies would not have to apply for planning permission. That consultation has recently opened to the public. 

Democratic powers

When asked if local authorities or central government should make the final decision on granting shale production projects, 65 percent of Conservative councillors said that the local authority should grant final planning consent.

Daniel Carey-Dawes, Senior Infrastructure Campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “It is clear that the government does not have the backing of its own local councillors for its proposals to fast-track fracking.

"These plans erode the principles of localism – they diminish local communities’ democratic powers and undermine the fundamentals of the local planning system – and councillors recognise this. 

“The government lacks the political support to bypass local authorities’ decision-making processes for fracking projects in their area. Unless the significant environmental risks of fracking can be entirely mitigated, exploratory and production plans must be scrutinised to the highest degree – not be made easier.

"We urge the government to listen to the views of its councillors and drop these plans immediately.” 

Permitted development

Rose Dickinson, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said: “Permitted development was meant to help people carry out small-scale things like putting up a garden shed, not drilling for gas. And this poll shows that Conservative councillors overwhelmingly agree. 

“By wresting away from people the modest power they had to have a meaningful say, communities and councillors are being side-lined by the government with these plans.

“More recently, getting fracking permission in Lancashire out in the dying minutes of parliament seems to show that the government is well aware of the level of opposition they are facing.

“It’s clear that affected communities’ wishes are being sacrificed so that fracking companies can more easily drill. Significantly, the fact also remains that fracking is fundamentally incompatible with avoiding climate chaos.” 

This Author

Marianne Brooker is a contributing editor at The Ecologist. This story is based on a press release from Friends of the Earth and the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

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