A letter leaked to Friends of the Earth and reported in today’s Sunday Telegraph reveal that the Government plans to have industrial-scale shale gas fracking production “within 10 years” and is considering making this happen by taking the right to decide on future shale gas production away from local councils.
The letter lays out plans from the Energy secretary, Amber Rudd, the Local Government secretary, Greg Clark, and the Environment secretary, Liz Truss, to Chancellor George Osborne.
The three Cabinet ministers tell George Osborne that they want to take the right to decide on fracking wells away from local councils, and spells out the Government’s plans to “bring commercial shale production within the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Planning regime”. This would mean decisions eventually taken by the Local Government secretary, rather than by local councils.
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Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth Chief Executive said “The Government is planning another attack on democracy in relation to fracking. The Prime Minister has said that communities would have a fair say in whether or not fracking should happen near them, but as this letter makes clear, this isn’t being reflected or honoured in the highest levels of Government.”
Next month sees the start of a public inquiry that will consider the appeal by Cuadrilla against the refusal of planning permission for two shale gas exploration sites in Lancashire. Despite the clear rejection of fracking by the people of Lancashire and their elected councillors, Government Minister Greg Clark has announced that he will decide whether or not fracking should go ahead.
The revelations come ahead of several important decisions on fracking in Ryedale, Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood. The movement to keep the UK frack-free despite Government collusion and industry pressure keeps on growing.