Yesterday the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, announced he would decide the outcome of appeals by Cuadrilla against refusals of planning permission to frack at two sites in Lancashire. DrillOrDrop report
Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council
“I’m extremely disappointed. These decisions are of great interest and importance to many people in Lancashire and ultimately this letter means those decisions will now be made by a lone politician in London.”
“The county council went to great lengths to thoroughly consider these applications and councillors made their decisions based on a huge amount of evidence both for and against each application.”
“When the appeals were lodged it already meant that the decisions would be taken out of the hands out of elected representatives here in Lancashire.”
“The difference now is that, rather than being determined by an impartial planning inspector, they will be determined by a minister in a Government which has already made its views on shale gas very clear.”
“I would urge the Secretary of State to properly consider the information put before him and demonstrate that he has listened to people’s views whether they are for or against.”
Donna Hume, senior energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth
“The fact that Lancashire Council’s rejection of fracking could now be overturned by central Government is a slap in the face to local democracy and the thousands of people in the county who strongly opposed it [fracking].
“For those who live in areas also under the threat of fracking, there will be extreme concern that any carefully considered local decision could be reversed by a Government intent on pursuing fracking at any cost.
“With mounting evidence that drilling for shale gas risks impacting on people’s health, polluting the natural environment and causing more climate change, it is only right that decisions are made locally by those who have to live with the consequences.
“If Cuadrilla is given permission to frack in Lancashire, it will be against the wishes of its residents, and its council, both of which have made their views against this risky process very clear.”
Preston New Road Group
“Preston New Road Group are appalled but not surprised to learn that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, has called-in the Lancashire fracking appeal decisions. This flies in the face of the hypocritical government’s stated commitment to localism and the devolution of local decisions to where they should rest: in local hands.”
“Fylde Conservative MP Mark Menzies has stated consistently that he backs localism and this decision needs to be taken and upheld locally. Preston New Road now asks that he makes a strong vocal opposition to this latest high-handed move to prise Lancashire’s future out of Lancashire’s hands.”
“30,000 people objected to this application. Our parish and borough councils objected to it, Lancashire County Council objected to it. Lancashire has spoken loudly and clearly: we don’t want or need this industry. It is a very “Black Friday” when local democracy has to be sacrificed in order to try to ensure planning outcomes under the euphemism of ‘national interest.”
Claire Stephenson, from the Preston New Road group, said
“The world is entering a critical period for climate change, and the need to act strongly to prevent catastrophic and irreversible global change is essential, the UK government seems dogged in their persistence to dig up yet more fossil fuels, against scientific warnings. Methane from fracking operations will contribute to this climate change.”
“The only options for future energy needs and meeting climate change targets must be focussed around renewable sources, of which the government has happily culled. It seems ironic that the UK government will attend the Paris Climate talks next week with little to contribute other than a destroyed renewables industry, scrapped carbon capture support and a nonsensical pursuit of fossil fuels.”
Sue Marshall, also from the group, said:
“Now even the illusion of democracy is at risk with far reaching consequences into all aspects of our lives. We don’t need to look abroad for terrorist threats: currently the greatest threat to us all is closer to home, in the heart of our government, whose blatant arrogance and disrespect for democratic process and destructive denial of human rights knows no bounds.”
Statement by Cuadrilla Resources
“We note the decision of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to decide the appeals after the Planning Inspector has conducted the Public Inquiry and produced a report and recommendations. This is part of the long established planning process and we look forward to presenting our case at the Public Inquiry commencing in February.”