Friday, November 23, 2018

News: "Let communities decide" on fracking

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Rotherham Council leader, Chris Read has joined 850 councillors and other elected representatives in signing an open letter opposing government proposals to allow fracking companies to undertake exploratory drilling without local planning applications.

Rothbiz reported earlier this year that the Government said it would consult on whether shale exploration should be treated as permitted development, which enables certain types of work to be carried out without the need to apply for planning permission.

INEOS appealed to the Government's Planning Inspectorate last year for a decision on its proposed test well at Harthill with Rotherham Council upset by the way the oil and gas exploration business took the decision out of the hands of its planning authority.

Over 800 councillors have signed an open letter calling for the withdrawal of proposals that treat exploratory drilling by fracking companies as permitted development, and to respect the rights of communities to make decisions on shale gas activities through the local planning system.

The Government is proposing that exploratory drilling for shale gas should be granted planning permission through a permitted development right. This right means fracking companies don’t need to apply for planning permission from the local authority. Permitted development is a category of planning originally designed to facilitate minor structural changes to homes such as extensions and putting up sheds.

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The government consultation closed on October 25 and has prompted hundreds of Councillors to express concern that the proposals are an affront to local democracy and risk industrialising the countryside. The letter – sent to the Secretaries of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, James Brokenshire MP and Greg Clark MP – has also been signed by MPs, Parish Councillors, and London Assembly Members.

Cllr. Chris Read said: "Permitted Development is designed for minor home improvements, not major industry. Ministers should drop these proposals."

Rotherham Council's approved response to the consultation, said: "The Council does not consider that any such non-hydraulic fracturing exploration should be permitted development, primarily as it would remove the local level of decision making and local accountability that communities expect.

"Whilst exploratory drills are not for full hydraulic fracturing (fracking), they can still have a significant impact on the locality, as evidenced at Harthill and Woodsetts. The correct route for such development is through the normal planning application and, where necessary, appeal process."

Plans for a test well at Harthill were approved by the planning inspector. The Woodsetts plans were refused by the planning board at Rotherham Council.

Images: INEOS

2 comments:

Anonymous,  November 24, 2018 at 5:51 PM  

On behalf of Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman who has just bought a £452m yacht, I would like to thank you for preventing the UK from producing its own oil from fracking. We have already had to reduce our oil production to keep prices high as a result of the USA's successful fracking industry. We don't want another country entering the fracking market.

Auntie Frack,  December 1, 2018 at 5:24 PM  

Er.. gas and oil are not the same thing.

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