Fracking Week in Parliament
A senior member of the government has flagged up plans to take major shale gas decisions out of local council control.
Andrea Leadsom told the House of Commons last week:
“Major shale gas planning decisions will be the responsibility of the national planning regime.”
Ms Leadsom, the Leader of the House, was responding to a call for a debate on large shale gas applications by the North East Derbyshire MP, Lee Rowley.
His constituency includes Marsh Lane, one of the sites earmarked by INEOS for shale gas exploration.
The company has accused Derbyshire County Council of unreasonable delay in deciding the application and has lodged an appeal for non-determination.
The decision will now be made after a public inquiry by a planning inspector or the Communities’ Secretary.
The Conservative Party manifesto at the 2017 general election included a proposal to bring major shale gas applications into the national planning regime, to be decided by government, rather than local councils. It also proposed classing non-fracking oil and gas applications as permitted development – without the need for planning permission. Neither proposal was included in the Queen’s Speech.
A spokesperson for the Communities and Local Government Department told DrillOrDrop:
“The government is considering how it will bring major shale planning decisions under the national planning regime and will announce our preferred way forward in due course.”
Policing anti-fracking protests
The Policing Minister, Nick Hurd, confirmed that Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner had applied for special grant funding for the cost of policing the anti-fracking protests outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site. He was responding to a question by the shadow policing minister, Louise Haigh.
Shale gas, air pollution and climate change
The Lib Dem’s energy spokesperson, Baroness Featherstone, raised the issue of air pollution and impacts on climate change from burning fossil fuels.
She told a debate on the global effects of climate change:
“We are not on course to meet our commitments in the fourth and fifth carbon budgets and, extraordinarily, the Government are still licensing more exploration for North Sea oil and gas and are encouraging—nay, reliant on—the shale gas industry filling the gap left by their lack of policy boldness. What are they thinking of, creating a new fossil fuel with one hand while signing the Paris agreement with the other?”
She said the government must stop subsidising fossil fuels.
With thanks to TheyWorkForYou.com
Lee Rowley, Conservative, North East Derbyshire
Following the recent experience in my constituency where a planning application for exploratory drilling that will lead to fracking has been declared for non-determination in a highly premature manner, may we have a debate in Government time about whether the planning system is working for these kinds of large applications?
Reply by Andrea Leadsom, Conservative, South Northamptonshire, Leader of the House of Commons
My hon. Friend is a strong voice for his constituents, and he is right to raise this matter. An applicant for planning permission can exercise powers under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 for a right of appeal to the Secretary of State against a decision to refuse consent, or non-determination. Whether an applicant wishes to exercise that right of appeal is a matter for them. He will appreciate that major shale gas planning decisions will be the responsibility of the national planning regime, so he could raise this with Department for Communities and Local Government Ministers during questions on 22 January.
Link to transcript 21 December 2017at
Question by Louise Haigh, Labour, Sheffield Heeley, Shadow Policing Minister
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if her Department will ensure funding from the public purse is provided for the full cost of the policing of the fracking site in Lancashire.
Reply by Nick Hurd, Conservative, Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, Policing Minister
The Lancashire PCC has submitted an application for Special Grant funding for the costs of policing the anti-fracking protests in Lancashire. This is currently being reviewed by HMICFRS and a decision will be made in due course.
Link to transcript 18 December
Extract of speech by Baroness Featherstone, Liberal Democrat, Energy Spokesperson
We rich nations have a super-responsibility to the world, but also to ourselves. We are suffering health impacts too. Poor air quality, mentioned by my noble friend Lady Walmsley and the right reverend Prelate, is just one example. The main culprit for it is fossil fuel air pollution, which is not helped by the discovery that diesel is equally bad. We are not on course to meet our commitments in the fourth and fifth carbon budgets and, extraordinarily, the Government are still licensing more exploration for North Sea oil and gas and are encouraging—nay, reliant on—the shale gas industry filling the gap left by their lack of policy boldness. What are they thinking of, creating a new fossil fuel with one hand while signing the Paris agreement with the other? According to the Health and Environment Alliance, the health cost of fossil fuels in the UK every year is £23.2 billion. This Government must stop subsidising fossil fuel, as must Europe. Although as a Liberal Democrat I am obviously a Europhile, it is not perfect in this and has just made some decisions with which I disagree. It is a first.
It is absurd for Greg Clark to launch the Clean Growth Strategy and say we are leading the world in fighting climate change when the facts on the ground, such as the scrapping of the £1 billion competition, which has been mentioned, the measures in the Budget and fossil fuel subsidies scream the absolute opposite
Link to transcript, Debate on global effects of climate change, 21 December 2017