After the plans for fracking in Lancashire were rejected, the Government now plans to write to local authorities to tell them to fast-track fracking applications. What’s more, if the council doesn’t fast track quick enough, the power may be taken out of their hands and ministers will be able to “step in… if planners are perceived to be obstructive.”
Amber Rudd spoke over the weekend saying that the government would write to planning authorities to clarify that it no longer wanted development bids to be “dragged out for months, or even years”.
Green MEP Keith Taylor said: “The government’s plans to fast-track fracking is shocking but not surprising as we all know the Tories are in bed with the fracking industry. Going all out for fracking is short-sighted and is a big distraction from the new era of clean renewable energy that scientists are urging us to move into.”
Rudd said the UK needed to pursue shale energy to “help ease the transition to renewable energy and ensure energy security”, adding “local communities would benefit from a deal that will see operators pay councils £100,000 for each wellsite plus one per cent of production revenue, equivalent to £5m to £10m a year”. Councils will also keep all revenue raised from business rates.
Yet in the case of Cuadrilla vs Lancashire, it was actually Cuadrilla themselves that prolonged the decision by amending the application and changing information countless times throughout autumn and winter of last year. In January of 2015 the recommendation of Lancashire County Council was for refusal, upon learning this Cuadrilla pushed that the decision was deferred until June 2015 in order to provide new information on new noise and highways mitigation measures.
Environmental campaigners continue to oppose a practice they say can damage water supplies and harm wildlife. Greenpeace’s Daisy Sands says: "The same government that has just given more powers to local councils to oppose wind farms, the cheapest source of clean energy, is about to strip them of their right to say no to risky and polluting fracking."
The public's support for fracking is also at an all-time low with only 1 in 5 people supporting shale gas exploration and 1 in 3 supporting nuclear. Around 95 firms have already applied for nearly 300 licences.
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