Westminster rally and debate urge government to let communities decide on fracking

180912Lancashire Suffragettes Against Fracking

Government proposals to bypass local decision-making for shale gas developments are to be challenged on Wednesday (12 September 2018) with a women’s rally outside the House of Commons and a parliamentary debate.

Lee Rowley MP2

Lee Rowley MP at a Westminster Hall debate on fracking in November 2017.

The Conservative MP, Lee Rowley, who opposed Ineos exploration proposals in his North East Derbyshire constituency, opens a Westminster Hall debate on planning permission for shale gas sites.

It comes at a key time as the government consults on changes to the planning system for shale gas.

Ministers have proposed to classify non-fracking shale gas exploration as permitted development. This would mean shale gas companies could establish a well pad and drill exploration wells without the need to submit a planning application to the local minerals planning authority.

The government is also proposing to designate shale gas production schemes as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. This would take decision-making away from local mineral planning authorities and give it to the Secretary of State on the recommendation of a government-appointed planning inspector.

Mr Rowley tweeted:

“I’ve secured a debate in Westminster Hall at 11am to discuss current proposals to loosen the planning rules around fracking.  Those communities who know fracking the best like it the least – and I’ll be using the debate to press for a rethink.”

180906 Lee Rowley tweet

Tweet by Lee Rowley MP about the parliamentary debate on shale gas planning rules.

Friends of the Earth is encouraging MPs to attend Mr Rowley’s debate.

In a campaign launched this weekend, Friends of the Earth said:

“This is a huge opportunity.

“If enough MPs attend and voice their opposition to fracking, the government will have to listen.”

Announcing the proposals in May, the Business Secretary, Greg Clark said:

“We believe that it is right to utilise our domestic gas resources to the maximum extent and exploring further the potential for onshore gas production from shale rock formations in the UK, where it is economically efficient, and where environment impacts are robustly regulated.”

Women’s rally

The debate coincides with a Parliament Square rally of more than 100 women dressed as Suffragettes.

The women are mainly from Lancashire, where the government overruled the county council to grant planning permission for what is expected to be the first UK high volume hydraulic frack since 2011. Final consent to frack the first well at the site at Preston New Road was granted by ministers in July 2018.

The women at the rally will ask MPs not to support the proposed changes to planning rules. They will deliver their message on a giant postcard to the Department for Business, Energy and Industry.

The rally, in the 100th year since some women secured the right to vote in parliamentary elections, will hear speeches from among others: the Green Party Peer, Baroness Jenny Jones; Green Party MP and former leader, Caroline Lucas; and former Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett.

Ms Lucas said:

“In July the Government quietly approved fracking in Lancashire – abandoning its commitment to tackle climate change by prolonging our dependence on fossil fuels, and defying democratic decisions made at the local level to block this dangerous drilling.

“Just 18% of people in the UK support fracking, while 85% back clean renewable energy. With MPs and women from across the country debating fracking next week in Parliament, ministers must listen to the public’s serious concerns and end their dash for gas.”

Dot Kelk, an environmental campaigner who will travel from Lancashire to the rally, said:

“Local democracy must be respected. On a local level, communities must be able to make planning decisions that are not interfered with on a national level. Otherwise, what is the point in having local governance?

“We say: let communities decide. Dirty energy infrastructure projects that have health, environment and climate impacts for years to come, should not be forced upon communities that have already clearly said no.

“The Suffragettes fought hard to give women a voice, but even today, we find we still can’t be heard by politicians.”

The Oscar-winning actor and dame, Emma Thompson, said:

“Everyone should know the story of Lancashire, where local democracy was flushed away by the government along with the decision of the local people to resist fracking in the area.

“Fracking is a ludicrous way of creating energy and flies in the face of everything this government pledged to support in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

“Support the Lancashire Women and force this government to listen.”


The 100+ Women rally is expected to begin at about 10.30am in Parliament Square, London SW1P 3BD. Speeches are expected to start at 12.30pm, after Prime Minister’s Questions.

The debate is at 11am in Westminster Hall, Houses of Parliament, London SW1A 1AA. It is Mr Rowley second Westminster Hall debate on shale gas. In November 2017, he told MPs shale gas exploration would result in “a wholesale industrialisation of the Derbyshire countryside.”

The consultation on the government proposals to change the planning system for shale gas runs until 25 October 2018. Link to consultation details and DrillOrDrop report

31 replies »

  1. I have every sympathy for the ladies on Wednesday. To travel all that way and be addressed by those three! That’s bad enough for them, but then to present that to the wider public will just automatically reinforce their perceptions. Public Relation attempts can be counter productive-this one has that look about it.

    The antis seem desperate to get anyone attached to their cause, in any way, and think all publicity is good. Sorry, mistaken. That’s why two thirds surveyed are STILL not against fracking being tested. That is also existing government policy. The one third should try and be more careful about exposing themselves to being seen as a minority group with support from individuals requiring publicity as they themselves are failing in their wider agendas.

    Wonder how much fossil fuel will be used to get to London and back?

  2. Lest we forget!
    The whole North Yorkshire Minerals and Waste Joint Plan (MWJP), Written Ministerial Statement (WMS), Permitted Development (PD) and Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) issues are all critical to sensible regulation of the industry and local democracy, but still about how to ALLOW fracking. I’m acutely aware that a great deal of money, time and effort are going into keeping everything exactly where it is at this moment in time. Even if it’s unsuccessful the Tory’s PD/NSIP proposals will have been a very astute diversionary tactic.
    While you’re standing in the penalty box, with a highly paid Tory minister (or UKOOG lobbyist) grabbing your shirt, wrestling with your arm, writhing convincingly on the ground, then remonstrating with the referee, do remember to keep your eye on the ball.

    • All the government’s shenanagins on planning may well be a diversionary tactic and even if they don’t get what they want it would leave us in the same place. However, if they do get what they want and the frackers can cut out the local planning stage, saving themselves time and money, we will be in a lot worse position. A relaxed planning system would also send a strong positive message to the investors. That’s why we have to resist this highly undemocratic move but don’t worry, we haven’t taken our eye off the ball.

  3. Exactly Sherwulfe. I suspect there are some antis out there who can understand such things. Not sure they require such profound explanation of what is obvious. But it fits in with the fake news regarding INEOS taxation.

    • ‘But it fits in with the fake news regarding INEOS taxation’ – it is interesting how the trump era has adopted this ‘fake news’ definition of top layer information; to divert from that which makes us uncomfortable. It is also a sign of our generation in what we choose to believe or feel comfortable with depending on the taught acceptability of our time; think about it. Get out of your comfort zone and get positively uncomfortable with reality.

      Big corporations do not pay tax; owners of said companies use and abuse the system. We are the ones paying, but it is hard to notice a pound here and there until there is no money to put food on the table.

      Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

  4. Keep on with the nonsense Sherwulfe, and you will convert many-convert them to realising that much of the anti comment is nonsense.

    Ever worked for a “big corporation”? Big corporations, like little corporations, like individuals, do tax planning, and still pay tax. Jeremy Corbyn just gets fined for not completing his tax return on time. Some do it better than others-shock/horror.

    Fake news, certainly not reality.

    • Not nonsense and you know it

      Yes, very big ones 🙂

      Only you say ‘fake news’; as your credibility is suspect, speaks volumes……

  5. Oh, I am a credit to my calling Sherwulfe. Shame you can’t say the same with your continual attempts to post obviously incorrect/fake news undermining the credibility of the antis. Maybe it is because there is just nothing you can find factual to support your arguments, or maybe that is your intention.

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