Greater Manchester to introduce ‘presumption against’ fracking

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Greater Manchester will introduce planning measures creating a “presumption against” fracking for shale gas, the city-region’s mayor has said

Andy Burnham told the Guardian that the fracking industry “hasn’t proven its case” after energy firm Cuadrilla had to repeatedly suspend operations in nearby Lancashire in December when drilling caused small earthquakes that breached legal limits set by the Oil & Gas Authority.

Central government supports fracking and Greater Manchester does not have the power to impose an outright ban.

However, Burnham said he hopes that introducing a presumption against fracking, which is set to be announced in the city-region’s spatial framework on Monday (7 January), will deter energy companies from applying.

“It’s hard to know what damage is being done and the effect that is having on groundwater and all of those other issues that emerge,” Burnham said of the Lancashire earthquakes.

“It’s even more worrying in Greater Manchester, which is a much more urban place, where there is more contaminated land, more mineshafts. This is an industry which hasn’t proven its case. In fact, the opposite.”

Burnham said he wants Greater Manchester to join cities around the world “that are driving fast towards carbon neutrality”.

“That is a big challenge and it must be embraced wholeheartedly and it means a full commitment to renewable energy, and not half-measures and not clinging on to processes that hark back to a past,” he added.

Greater Manchester is set to host a Green Summit in March, where advice from experts and academics will be combined with input from citizens, activists, businesses, charities and community groups to create a five-year plan for putting the region on the path to carbon neutrality.

Greater Manchester has set a target of becoming carbon neutral by at least 2040.

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