Photos: Yorkshire demonstration over “degraded democracy” of fracking decisions

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Campaigners with Mr Hollinrake outside his constituency surgery

Yorkshire residents opposed to government proposals to take over decisions on fracking confronted their MP, Kevin Hollinrake, outside his constituency surgery at the weekend.

Members of Frack Free Ryedale, Frack Free Helmsley and local residents demonstrated outside Helmsley Arts Centre on Saturday morning.

They are angry that three senior cabinet ministers proposed in a leaked letter to strip planning authorities of the power to decide large shale gas applications by declaring them ‘nationally significant infrastructure’ projects.

They also criticised a meeting hosted by Mr Hollinrake earlier this month with representatives of four oil and gas companies that have exploration licences in Yorkshire.

Mr Hollinrake’s Thirsk and Malton constituency has more exploration licence blocks than any other in the country. An application by Third Energy to frack at Kirby Misperton is currently being considered by North Yorkshire County Council.

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Opponents of fracking in Helmsley on Saturday

Ian Conlan, from Frack Free Ryedale, said:

“At every turn it appears the government has stacked the odds against local people, leaving demonstrations one of our few remaining options we have to object.”

“We want our MP, Kevin Hollinrake, to stand up for our concerns, not the fracking companies”.

Helmsley hotelier and former Ryedale District Councillor, Chris Parkin, said:

“The fact the Ministers can override the planning process degrades local democracy to a depth hitherto unequalled”.

Nawton resident Michael Tanner added: “Despite Ryedale District Council, all five market town councils and a large proportion of parish councils democratically calling for a moratorium on fracking, Mr Hollinrake seems determined to impose the government’s dash for gas in our rural area.”

“Even before North Yorkshire County Council has decided the outcome of Third Energy’s planning application he appears to be mapping out the areas where fracking will take place with the four companies granted PEDL licences within his constituency”.

After the meeting with the oil companies, Mr Hollinrake wrote on his website:

“It was agreed that the companies would develop clear guidelines covering all these issues and produce a pictorial or computer generated model that illustrate their plans.

“I will make sure that local people get access to this information so that they can see for themselves exactly what this will mean for the area they live in.”

7 replies »

  1. Interesting to see Councillor Bob Gardiner was with Mr Hollinrake. It is good that Mr Hollinrake takes the time to engage with people but does he listen?
    Well done to all those that politely showed their concern about fracking and democracy.

  2. I’ve yet to hear a sound explanation as to how pursuing fracking at the national level is undemocratic. Were the Conservatives not elected democratically? Were the rules that were put in place to allow these decisions to be taken up at a national level done so in a non-democratic manner? Were the Nationally Significant Infrastructure procedures put in place by a Totalitarian state, or were thees rules instituted just a few years ago in a democratic process?

    Sometimes democracy means stepping on a few local interests for the good of the country. In fact, democracy has always been about giving up a few rights for the protection of others. In this case, a few local NIMBYs will lose so that the nation can benefit from energy security, more jobs, more wealth, and less carbon emissions. That’s good democracy if you ask me!

    • The conservatives grabbed power delivered by a rather poor win, meaning they got the vote of only one third of those who voted, while many didn’t bother at all due to concerns about how corrupt the system is.
      Local democracy is about local councils delivering what local people want, not what a few shareholders in Westminster and their sponsors want.
      Stealing land rights and entitlements to pollute the environment wholesale is not democratic and protects no one but the bank accounts of a few get rich quick offshore tax free haven domiciles.
      You have a poor sewed grasp of democracy and your lyre needs either tuning better or throwing away.

  3. Fracking is not a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. If it was planning would take a minimum of 12 months for any decision, not 16 weeks – and you would also be entering into the realms of statutory compensation.

    As for this government being democratic – they have been criticised frequently for passing legislation (including relating to fracking) without proper debate, have form for introducing legislation just before parliamentary recess/holiday periods and were even pulled up by the House of Lords Scrutiny Committee for this sort of behaviour and not telling MPs all relevant facts. They also conduct consultation on fracking during holiday periods, against there own best practice, and for the shortest possible time for complex matters, again against their own best practice.

    Check it out – it is well documented.

    They have also attached freedom of information laws, access to judicial review for environmental matters, and are exercising call in for fracking applications and penalising local planning authorities if there are any delays, even when the delay is the fault of the applicant!

    If the Bard thinks this is democratic I disagree. I don’t think people should be congratulating this government on its approach to democracy.

  4. For those who didn’t attend the NYCC joint Health and Environment scrutiny committee investigating the regulation of fracking on the 22nd January, Mr Hollingdrake used his 3 minute speech to speak strongly in favour of fracking and urged Councillors to support it. Be under no illusions he has every intention of ignoring local people’s concerns, and will continue to tow the Conservative Party line that Fracking is good for us all!

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