Councillors in Gloucestershire have supported a motion repeating their opposition to fracking in the county. They also condemned individual payments to people in fracking areas and calling for a review of Government policy on the issue.
The motion was approved by 22 votes to nil at a meeting of the full council this morning. All 26 members of the ruling Conservative group abstained.
The proposal for individual payments, suggested by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, has been criticised as bribery by opponents of fracking. The results of a government consultation on community benefit payments are expected soon.
Today’s motion, proposed by the Labour group, also criticised the council’s failure to adopt a presumption against fracking in the draft local minerals plan, expected to come into force in 2018.
In July, the Environment and Communities Scrutiny Committee voted for a presumption against fracking in the local minerals plan. But Cllr Nigel Moor, the cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure, said this would make the plan unsound. The cabinet backed him in approving the plan unchanged.
Earlier in the meeting, Owen Adams, of Frack Off Our Forest, urged the council to adopt the precautionary principle when planning for oil and gas.
He called on councillors to reword a policy (MW06) in the new minerals plan so that it read “avoid”, rather than “minimise, unacceptable impacts”.
He called for a debate of the council before the draft plan was finalised
Cllr Moor told the meeting the precautionary principle was one of many issues that had to be considered in any planning application.
“There’s been a huge response to the minerals local plan as a consultation and officers are working through that consultation and we will publish a report dealing with the consultation and show how we intend to deal with each of the points raised”.
This Council notes that the Government has recently proposed a change to their ‘fracking’ policy to include a personal payment to households within the area of proposed ‘fracking’ sites.
This Council believes that this is fundamentally wrong, as it could lead to critical environmental decisions being taken away from communities as a whole. This Council reaffirms that the protection of Gloucestershire’s environment is a key priority for this authority.
This Council notes its disappointment in the Government for abolishing the Department for Energy and Climate Change. This Council also notes its disappointment that the previous recommendations made by Environment and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee have not been supported by the administration. Therefore this Council requests that the Cabinet Member for Fire, Planning and Infrastructure establishes a cross party advisory group to consider those aspects of the Local Minerals Plan that relate to ‘Fracking’. This would allow members to represent the concerns of local communities.
This Council asks that the Leader of the Council writes to Gloucestershire’s six MPs and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to urge them to re-evaluate Government policy over the proposed Community Support Payment for fracking.
This Council affirms its opposition in principle alone to any attempt to Frack in the Forest of Dean and other parts of the County.