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. If you keep bringing it to the attention of those that matter, eventually, in the way of British politics someone will lift their head above the trenches and call time. Not long now.

    Well done Lee and all power to the ladies!

  2. This is exactly the way forward how we have go to convince those in power that the fields the precious farmland in our Country must remain untouched from industrial change. There is an alternative source of Energy which has always been deep below the Earth and the present course of exploitation for Gas is shall fail . Keep up the resistance because we can keep in the ground . Glad to be you and Bless you all . Best regards Brian

  3. The government has really shot itself in the foot with these ludicrous plans to make fracking Permitted Development and bring it into the NSIP regime. Even pro-fracking Conservatives like Kevin Hollinrake are now up in arms about this attack on local democracy. It was clearly a sign of desperation by the frackers, and is hopefully the last gasp of a dying industry. Good on the Suffragettes for standing up to be counted (and great photo!).

  4. But dear white ladies .Don,t forget we in the Weald valley in Surrey are Not Fracking.Hope you get that in your thick sculls .We are conventional oil and gas production.So we don,t need your Ecco warriors down here .With all the rubbish you leave behind

  5. #UKLabour Party already has a Fracking ban in it’s manifesto & Barry Gandiner is actively supporting protesters at various sites.
    Dennis Skinner & many other Labour MPs are very vocal in Parliament .. the Tories damaging policies are a big problem for every area effected where they are overturning local democracy.

  6. Slade , if you were a local you would know that the Weald isn’t a valley . How can anyone take anything you say seriously when you don’t even have a grasp of the basics. Another greedy investor tries to justify support for a toxic industry that will be kicked out very soon.

  7. Well, its Sunday again folks? And i hope you are enjoying a lazy morning just thinking about breakfast?
    I heard this on the radio last week and thought, Oh yes? The Who? “My Generation”, we could have fun with that?
    So, with the greatest of apologies to The Who, for their lyrics, slightly altered.

    “The Why”
    “Lie Generation”

    People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ’bout love generation)

    Just because they drill the ground (Talkin’ ’bout earth generation)

    Things they say look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ’bout sun generation)

    I know they’ll lie before I get sold (Talkin’ ’bout power generation)

    There’s is a Hate Generation!

    There’s is a Money Generation, baby!

    Why don’t you all f-fade away (Talkin’ ’bout safe generation)

    And don’t try to dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin’ ’bout health generation)

    I’m not trying to cause a big s-s-sensation (Talkin’ ’bout future generation)

    I’m just talkin’ ’bout their sneer g-g-g-generation (Talkin’ ’bout love generation)

    This is love generation!

    This is not hate generation, baby!

    Why don’t you all f-fade away (Talkin’ ’bout love generation)

    And don’t try to d-dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin’ ’bout sun generation)

    I’m not trying to cause a b-big s-s-sensation (Talkin’ ’bout power generation)

    I’m just talkin’ ’bout hope g-g-generation (Talkin’ ’bout future generation)

    This is love generation!

    This is earth generation, baby!

    People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ’bout truth generation)

    Just because they d-d-drill the ground (Talkin’ ’bout our generation)

    Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)

    Yeah, I know they’ll lie before I get sold (Talkin’ ’bout our generation)

    This is my generation

    This is our generation, baby


    That was fun!
    Have a great loving a peaceful Europa free Sunday at Leith Hill in particular and the same honest loving peaceful Sunday for us all with family and friends today.

    [Comment corrected at poster’s request]

  8. The Majority of the Country are not against fracking

    Many Councils in the U.K are not against fracking, obviously because they invest £Billions in it…

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