Government points to planning change for major shale applications


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

Baroness Featherstone

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

22 replies »

  1. Absolutely feckin gobsmacking – but I suppose we should have expected such rank hypocrisy, disrespect, greed and self-interest from this bunch of utterly selfish, stupid, short-termist ***s.

    Sorry for the language – & on Christmas Eve too! but I’m sure their timing so close to Christmas was a deliberate ploy to ‘lose’ this news …

  2. its about time the government did something about these councils stalling & costing these companies thousands of pounds in planning appeals Energy is a National issue & should not be decided by a few ignorant tree huggers who do not understand the oil & gas Business. the same people would be the first to complain if all the lights went out The Nation comes first.

    • I agree it is time that the Government should do something pull the plug on big greedy coorporations that care nothing for people and the environment and support renewable energy. I can put on an extra jumper, live without light on a night, but I cannot survive without clean water, air and good health. PEOPLE before PROFIT!!!!

        • You may be able to survive wearing an extra jumper but many elderly and frail people cannot. Yes we must have concern for the environment but we need to balance that concern with a thought for keeping energy prices avoidable and maintaining a 24/7 energy supply which is not weather dependent.

      • There has been no gas extracted, no one knows whether this industry is viable, some studies have indicated there is likely to be only relatively limited amounts of recoverable gas. Just how does this qualify for being nationally significant? The government cannot have it all ways. And if they insist on pursuing these tactics, they will only succeed in increasing opposition. Many Conservative voters will not condone bypassing local democracy and having this industry forced upon them in this roughshod way. Is the government prepared to fully compensate people? Because if they go down this route they should do and not leave it to the possibility of the industry turning a profit or making voluntary payments. This will backfire spectacularly and is a legal minefield. The heels of local communities will be well and truly dug in. A foolish move by an unpopular, minority government.

        • Quite, no one knows if there’s gas down there, that’s exactly why Cuadrilla, Third, Etc want to explore for gas. But if there is gas in economic quantities this could make some, as yet unsized, contribution to reducing our increasing reliance on imported gas. If the exploration is unsuccessful then the companies will simply close up shop and we’ll have to find some other way of filling the need for reliable, non-weather dependent energy supplies once coal is removed from from the energy stack.

      • Oil companies should not be able to overthrow of countries views and there human rights that will poison our next generation keep it in the ground

    • For your information I am not an ignorant tree hugger I am a hard working grandma who cares greatly about the future I am leaving for my children and grandchildren, fracking is not a safe future

  3. Just before i go i would say this about this release on Christmas Eve, we are being played guys, this is nothing more or less than standard brainwashing shock tactics, simple psychology, but turned against us, this announcement is meant to make you fearful of the depths to which they will plunge to overcome public protest against their incestuous relationship with the oil and gas corporations.

    A person in shock is much easier to control and be open to suggestion, that is the real purpose of the timing of a threat to our very democracy.

    We all ready know that Exxon and all the others have lied for thirty years or more about the certain impact of fossil fuel use on climate change. Go for that issue, prove they cannot even approach their climate change promises.

    But please remember that they are our servants, not the other way around, we employ them do do what we decide, they do not employ us, indeed they are parasitic upon us, if they do not do what we want, then we get rid of them. This announcement is trying to traumatise us into obeying them as if they have all the power over us, they do not.

    They are not a government, what ever it is they are, they have no place in Westminster. Call for an emergency election on this issue, a vote of no confidence, anything, but stop playing their games.

    Thats it guys.

    Ignore the smoke and mirrors, its all illusion, don’t fall for it.

  4. Perhaps a new government ‘department’ can be created for the decision making of approving developments – maybe call it the “gas & oil planning advisory” to match the recently created “oil & gas authority” Lets also make this a plc so that in future we can sell off and privatise policy making – we’ve run out of other thinks to sell-off. More money and solves the problem of government having to decide these tricky corporate rulings that seem to annoy the populace.

  5. We no longer live in a democratic state. Security is less of an issue than pollution and carbon emissions. The Tory Party will all get coal in their stockings this Christmas, they’ll love that!

  6. Shale is only profitable if prices are high. Renewables are coming down in price. Opposition to fracking is high, and getting higher. Public support for renewables is high and getting higher. Any more stupid luddite investors out there who want to back yesterdays technology that has landed scores of American companies bankrupt. The opposition to fracking has sussed out whats going on, in Westminster, local councils,on the front line. We are many, they are few. We being the large majority. You are outnumbered frack guys. And we have right on our side. The government may pretend they can use a trump card: national planning regime. They are playing a losing game, they feel impelled to try and please the corporate lobbyists. Fiddling while Rome burns.

  7. The issue of air pollution and impacts on climate change from burning fossil fuels is almost the same as production of batteries, so now the pollution has doubled.

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