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Fracking to be fast-tracked

Fracking to be fast-tracked

In March 2018, the government announced proposals to fast-track fracking by allowing applications for exploratory drilling to skip through the normal stages of the planning system.

These proposals would make it easier to gain permission for non-hydraulic exploratory drilling and curtail the power of local authorities to oppose applications through the planning system. This an unacceptable move that will undermine local democracy and faith in the planning system.

Fracking poses serious risks to our countryside and so should be subject to greater, not less scrutiny, so we are urgently working to force the government to drop these damaging proposals.

What has the government announced?

CPRE is most concerned about two proposals:

  1. The principle of whether exploratory drilling should be treated as permitted development.

Classifying exploration as permitted development would remove the need for full planning permission, effectively removing local councils’ decision making powers and ability to reflect their communities’ wishes. Permitted Development is intended for developments that can guarantee no unreasonable impact on the locality – smaller things like erecting a conservatory – not drilling for shale gas. This proposal is a distortion of the intentions of the planning system, eroding local scrutiny and decision making.

  1. The criteria required to trigger the inclusion of fracking into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects Regime (NSIP).

If designated as NSIP, fracking proposals would go through a national planning process that would reduce local jurisdiction. Designating individual fracking applications as nationally significant infrastructure projects would again lead to forcing decisions from national government - despite local opposition.

Widespread lack of support

There has been a growing momentum against these proposals, with MPs from all political parties voicing their opposition, highlighting their undemocratic nature. This was demonstrated at a recent Westminster Hall Debate, ‘Shale Gas Exploration: Planning Permission’, where a packed room of cross-party MPs challenged the Minister on the undemocratic nature of the measures. You can watch the full debate here.

The government has suffered a number of setbacks recently in relations to these specific proposals, and fracking more generally – including from its own advisory bodies. Since the proposals were announced:

  • Almost 200,000 of us have signed our petition demanding the PD and NSIP proposals are dropped.
  • Over 11,000 of you reached out to your council leaders to ask them to join in the fight and represent the voice of communities.
  • In a poll commissioned by CPRE and Friends of the Earth of Conservative Councillors in July, 80% were opposed to the government’s plans.
  • We teamed up with 20 organisations to object to the proposals in a joint letter published in the Telegraph.
  • A report from the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee urged the government to drop its plans to fast-track fracking and dismisses the government proposals to do so as ‘hugely harmful’.
  • The proposals sparked Tory backlash as two dozen Conservative MPs threatened to rebel against fast-tracked fracking.
  • Leading climate scientist, James Hansen, challenged the government’s proposals and warned of the risks of fracking poses to climate change and the environment. 

And, on 24 July 2018, the government chose to ignore the wishes of local people and overrule Lancashire County Council, by granting consent to start full-scale fracking at Preston New Road. Fracking began on 15 October, but has already been halted due to a number of seismic events.
The government’s public consultations on these proposals closed on 25 October 2018 – you can read our full, national response opposing the proposals here.

How can you help?

Sign our 38 degrees petition to Greg Clark (Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), demanding the government’s proposals are dropped.

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Donate to help us keep up the pressure both nationally and locally to get these proposals dropped.

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Time and again fracking has been held up at almost every stage of the planning process by local authorities and the people they represent. Together we can see these proposals dropped. 

Find out more about our #FrackturedCommunities campaign.

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