Back in September, I wrote to the Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, Claire Perry, and called on her to abandon the Government’s proposed changes to the planning process for fracking, which would make it easier for fracking to take place without planning permission.
I have now received a letter of reply from Ms Perry, who has also included a ‘Shale Gas Myth Buster’, both of which I have posted below. The ‘myth buster’ is a thinly veiled press release from the fracking industry. I will not bore you by going through each of the so-called facts, but needless to say that every one of them is disputed.
Sadly, the Minister’s response is as expected, a defence of the fracking industry and the Government’s proposed changes to the planning process.
The Minister is technically correct in saying that local communities and residents will be consulted on whether fracking will go ahead in their area. However, Ms Perry failed to mention that these consultations have no power over the process and will be ignored by the Government.
We have already seen this in Lancashire, where Lancashire County Council voted to reject fracking, but this decision was ignored by central government, which waived through the fracking applications anyway.
I fear that this will be the same for the Government’s consultation on its proposed changes to the planning process for fracking. No matter what the response to the consultation is, the Government will push ahead with its de-regulation of the planning process with regards to fracking.
The Government’s zealotic support for fracking is deeply disappointing and dangerous, as we all know that the world must move towards renewable energy if we want to avert the looming climate catastrophe. To move from one fossil fuel to another is a pointless, costly and damaging exercise in futility, which will only delay our inevitable transition to renewable energy and cause unnecessary damage to the world in the process.
I welcome the announcement from Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham that all ten local authorities in Greater Manchester will write into their planning policies a ‘presumption’ against any request to frack. However, when a fracking company’s application is rejected by a Council, they can simply appeal to the Government, which will waive through their proposal. Also, if the Government’s proposed changes to the planning process are enacted, many fracking planning applications will by-pass councils entirely and be decided by central Government alone.
I can assure you that I will continue to oppose fracking and the de-regulation of fracking, and to fight for the expansion of renewable energy production in the UK and around the world.