Poll reveals Conservative councillors at odds with government fracking plans

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A new poll published by the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Friends of the Earth has revealed that an overwhelming majority (80%) of Conservative councillors believe that planning applications should be required in areas where fracking companies have a license to drill

The poll was carried out following the government’s announcement that it will be consulting on whether the use of non-hydraulic fracturing in shale gas exploration should be treated as something known as ‘permitted development’. This means fracking companies would not have to apply for planning permission. That consultation has recently opened to the public.

When asked if local authorities or central government should make the final decision on granting shale production projects, 65% of Conservative councillors said that the local authority should grant final planning consent.

Daniel Carey-Dawes, Senior Infrastructure Campaigner at the CPRE, said:

“It is clear that the government does not have the backing of its own local councillors for its proposals to fast-track fracking. These 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.

“The government lacks the political support to bypass local authorities’ decision-making processes for fracking projects in their area. Unless the significant environmental risks of fracking can be entirely mitigated, 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.

“By wresting away from people the modest power they had to have a meaningful say, communities and councillors are being side-lined by the government with these plans.

“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.

“It’s clear that affected communities’ wishes are being sacrificed so that fracking companies can more easily drill. Significantly, the fact also remains that fracking is fundamentally incompatible with avoiding climate chaos.”

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