Government must listen to MPs and stop fracking plans
The government must take heed of MPs and put a halt to changes to fracking rules which would take power away from local people and make it easier for fracking companies to drill.
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee today (5 July) warns the government against pushing ahead with plans that undermine local democracy.
The cross-party committee’s report on planning guidance on fracking was unequivocal in its view that “shale gas development of any type should not be classed as a permitted development” – a denouncement of government plans to change the planning process to make it easier for fracking companies to drill without the need for planning permission or proper local democratic participation.
The Committee are also highly critical of government plans to bring fracking planning applications under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) regime – thereby by-passing local authorities and taking decision making straight to a national level.
Friends of the Earth previously submitted evidence to the committee and voiced its concerns that the changes would take power away from local people and make it easier for fracking companies to drill, putting huge swathes of the English countryside at risk.
Friends of the Earth also submitted evidence which echoed the committee’s concerns that the definition of fracking the government intends to use “does not reflect the technologies used on the ground nor the public understanding of fracking” and would mean than some activities which are perceived by many as fracking would sit outside these rules.
Responding to the report, Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said:
“MPs are right to denounce government plans to make it easier for fracking companies to drill without planning permission and slash the involvement of local people.
“It’s absurd that the government wants to apply rules originally designed for harmless activities like putting up a garden shed to include drilling for oil and gas.
“Fracking is highly contentious and bad news for our climate and environment: at the very least local people deserve to have a say.
“The government should listen to MPs and throw out these proposals.”
Fracking has been stopped in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland because of the risks, meaning England is the only part of the UK which allows this controversial, damaging practice to take place.