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Councils should have power over fracking plans, Tory councillors say

A recent survey has found that a vast majority (80%) of Conservative councillors agree that fracking firms, where they have a license to drill and explore for gas, should be made to apply for planning permission before drilling.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and Friends of the Earth carried out the poll, which also revealed that a smaller majority (65%) of Tory councillors think local authorities should grant final planning consent.

The survey was carried out as the government announced it will be undertaking a public consultation on whether the use of non-hydraulic fracturing in shale gas exploration should be treated as permitted development, meaning fracking companies would be able to dodge having to apply for planning permission.

Daniel Carey-Dawes, senior infrastructure campaigner at the CPRE, therefore argued that the government does not have the backing of local councillors for its “fast-track fracking” proposals.

He added that the 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.”

“Unless the significant environmental risks of fracking can be entirely mitigated,” Carey-Dawes continued, “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.”

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.

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

Top image: Dave Thompson


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