Government unveils measures to fast-track fracking

Council decisions to be overruled by government in bid to kick-start shale revolution

The government is firing up its machinery to fast-track shale gas extraction in a bid to override local authorities’ opposition to fracking.

The move will allow ministers to intervene and overrule in any fracking application processes which are deemed to be too “slow and confused”.

“Ministers want to ensure shale applications can’t be frustrated by slow and confused decision-making amongst councils, which benefits no one,” said Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, and Greg Clark, the communities secretary.

Under the current system, fracking applications have been stymied by councils who have taken months and even years to come to decisions, and then rejected applications.

Clark added: “No one benefits from uncertainty caused by delays in planning decisions. By fast-tracking any appropriate applications, today’s changes will tackle potential hold-ups in the system.”

But the government’s decision to overrule councils is likely to cause a backlash.

Speaking to the FT, Naomi Luhde-Thompson, a Friends of the Earth planning adviser said: “Local authorities have been following the rules. These changes are being made because the government doesn’t agree with the democratic decisions councils have been making.”

Concerns over the effects of fracking have seen it banned in France, and in New York State. Meanwhile, in Australia, where fracking has been underway for some years, there is a growing clamour due to damage to groundwater supplies and farmland – this has also led Tasmania to ban fracking.

In the UK, the government will struggle to convince people the process is safe. In 2011, experimental drilling caused an earthquake in Lancashire.

The government’s move to further support for the extraction of environmentally damaging fossil fuels comes just a fortnight after ten charities including the National Trust, the RSPB, Greenpeace and WWF wrote a joint letter to the government raising “major concerns” over green policies which have been “cancelled or weakened over the past three months”.

Now read

Social Bookmarks