Politics

Government warned it could lose vote over changes to shale gas planning rules

180912 WestHall Planning debate slider

The government was warned this morning to drop proposals to change the planning rules on shale gas.

MPs from all parties lined up in a parliamentary debate to criticise the ideas, announced in May and currently being consulted on.

They would classify fracking shale gas developments as permitted development without the need for planning applications. Decisions on major production schemes would be made by ministers rather than local authorities.

180912 WestHall Planning debate Nick Herbert

Nick Herbert MP. Westminster Hall Shale Planning debate, 12/9/18. Source: Parliament TV

The energy minister, Claire Perry, was warned the government could lose a vote on the proposals.

Nick Herbert (Conservative, Arundel and South Downs) said:

“Planning permission is currently required for non-conventional drilling.

“That will not happen if there is permitted development, and the ability of local authorities to regulate lorry movements, for instance, will be taken away.

“There is huge concern about that, and I invite the Minister to look again at the proposals, because I do not believe there is a parliamentary majority for them.”

180912 WestHall Planning debate LeeRowley

Lee Rowley MP. Westminster Hall Shale Planning debate, 12/9/18. Source: Parliament TV

Another Conservative, Lee Rowley, who opened the debate, said fracking had attracted the greatest amount of opposition that he had seen in 15 years in politics.

He described the proposals as fundamentally wrong:

“they take people out of a process that it is vital for them to be part of so that they have their opportunity to speak and to highlight why things are appropriate or inappropriate for their local area and why their environment will be so affected if these things go ahead.

“I hope that, at the end of the consultation, the Government will listen and this will not go forward.”

Mr Rowley represents North East Derbyshire, where in August a planning inspector approved Ineos plans for shale gas exploration at Marsh Lane. The MP spoke against the scheme at the public inquiry.

He said:

“That application simply to explore, which would be allowed under permitted development rights, would mean the imposition of heavy industrial equipment for five years. It would be the equivalent of pouring two football fields’ worth of concrete into an area that has not been changed since the 1695 enclosure Act, and putting a 60 metre-high drilling rig up there for six to nine months.”

Mr Rowley said nearly 4,000 people in his constituency had been involved in discussions about the Ineos plans.

“Whether people agree or disagree with it—I disagree—we have to give people the opportunity to voice their opinions.”

180912 WestHall Planning debate KevinHollinrake

Kevin Hollinrake MP. Westminster Hall Shale Planning debate, 12/9/18. Source: Parliament TV

Kevin Hollinrake (Conservative, Thirsk and Malton) represents the constituency where Third Energy wants to frack at Kirby Misperton.

He said if the permitted development proposals applied to well pads it could mean “heavy industrial construction” that could “literally go anywhere in any one of our constituencies.”

180912 WestHall Planning debate MarkMenzies

Mark Menzies MP. Westminster Hall Shale Planning debate, 12/9/18. Source: Parliament TV

Another Conservative, Mark Menzies, who represents Fylde where Cuadrilla could be days away from fracking at Preston New Road, said:

“I urge her [the minister] to listen to the concerns of Members about permitted development and planning changes.”

He asked:

“Were we to go down the permitted development route, the concerns raised by residents about traffic planning at Roseacre Wood [Cuadrilla’s second proposed site in Lancashire], which will probably kill it as a suitable site, would not be considered, and that the proposals the Government have laid before us are quite frankly bonkers?

180912 WestHall Planning debate Bob Seeley

Bob Seely MP. Westminster Hall Shale Planning debate, 12/9/18. Source: Parliament TV

Bob Seely (Conservative, Isle of Wight), was concerned about where the proposals could lead:

“It is very poor precedent for the Government effectively to force through something that is locally unpopular in many areas, because they could do so with many other things in future, including housing targets? Overall, as well as fracking, this is poor democratic accountability on the part of Government.”

180912 WestHall Planning debate Kevin Barron

Sir Kevin Barron MP. Westminster Hall Shale Planning debate, 12/9/18. Source: Parliament TV

Labour’s Sir Kevin Barron represents Rother Valley, where Ineos also has permission to drill for shale gas in the village of Harthill. He called for a moratorium until risks of fracking near abandoned coalmines had been investigated.

“Morass of protest and countervailing information”

180912 WestHall Planning debate Claire Perry

Claire Perry MP, Energy Minister. Westminster Hall Shale Planning debate, 12/9/18. Source: Parliament TV

Ms Perry, responding to the debate, denied the proposals would “override local decision making”. She said the current planning system had to change:

“We are stuck in a morass of protest and countervailing information.

“I pity any local councillor who gets an application on their desk, because they will shortly have a travelling circus of protestors to deal with, most of whom do not hail from the areas where these sites are located.

“We then have policing issues and protestors blocking roads and preventing young children from getting to hospital.

“That is an entirely unacceptable way to express democracy in our country.”

Ms Perry refused to give way for the Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas.

180912 WestHall Planning debate DennisSkinner

Dennis Skinner MP. Westminster Hall Shale Planning debate, 12/9/18. Source: Parliament TV

Dennis Skinner, the MP for Bosolver, which has licences for shale gas exploration, said

“What about me then?”

The minister replied:

“I will certainly not give way to the hon. Gentleman.”

180912 WestHall Planning debate Ruth George

Ruth George MP. Westminster Hall Shale Planning debate, 12/9/18. Source: Parliament TV

Labour’s Ruth George (High Peak) asked why anyone could have faith in government consultations because ministers went ahead regardless.

Ms Perry described many responses to consultations as “click-and-paste”.

“many responses come from organisations that are profoundly opposed to ever burning a molecule of fossil fuel. That is not a sensible place for our energy policy to be in.”

She said:

“I will not set this country’s energy policy based on an ideology premised on using 100% renewables now, which cannot be delivered at the right price.”


Reporting from this debate was made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers

50 replies »

    • Great debate and highlights how the Government is trying to head off down the wrong road with fracking.

      Claire Perry did herself no favours by suggesting that it had to be an energy policy based on 100% renewables.

      I doubt she understands how our diverse energy supply system operates.

      ‘Travelling circus of protesters’ and refusing to give way to Caroline Lucas.

      She was supposed to present a professional case for the need to frack the UK countryside.

      That did not happen.

      • “We are stuck in a morass of protest and countervailing information.
        No, we are stuck in a stranglehold of lobbyists and downright lies.

        “I pity any local councillor who gets an application on their desk, because they will shortly have a travelling circus of protestors to deal with, most of whom do not hail from the areas where these sites are located.
        It is not the local Councillor who gets this on their desk, it is a planning officer; Councillors make the decisions [until Westminster pulls that option away from them]

        “We then have policing issues and protestors blocking roads and preventing young children from getting to hospital.
        Evidence please, Claire

        “That is an entirely unacceptable way to express democracy in our country.”
        Unfortunately the democratic process has given way that bordering on dictatorship. The people of Lancashire said and continue to say NO; but that’s not the right answer for Claire and her minions….

        • Let’s be clear about one fact. We have not had a single vote on fracking in Lancashire. To say that people voted yes or no is pure speculation.

          • I thought Claire Perry was a total disgrace. She had an agenda of her own and was determined no one would speak. Is this is democracy at work? I think not.

          • Do you mean the decisions taken by the democratically elected Local Authority not to allow two fracking applications, based on legitimate planning grounds, supported by the Independent Planning Inspectorate ? Which were then overruled by a Government Minister.

        • And Rotherham Council was persuaded NOT by a travelling circus of protestors but by ordinary working class and middle class people who live locally. Same at Conservative controlled Derbyshire County Council.

  1. Well said, Claire.

    Easy way to deal with these self serving individuals-there’s a boundary change coming up, isn’t there? Then they could join a travelling circus as professional clowns.

    • It might as well have been Jim Ratcliffe himself speaking with every word being quoted from industry PR sheet . Been in the job 5 minutes and it shows . Another embarrassment for the government .

  2. What a shockingly arrogant performance from Claire Perry, who spent the whole time casting aspersions on those who have the temerity to oppose fracking, and completely ignored the issue being debated (and eloquently put forward by Conservative MP Lee Rowley), ie the chilling impact that the Permitted Development and NSIP proposals would have on local democracy. To see her being harangued by MPs from all parties – and in particular fellow Conservatives – just shows how out of touch she is and how little regard central government has for anyone’s opinions apart from their own. The reference to the Novichok poisoning case – implying we are dependent on Russia for gas when we get less than 1% from that country (the vast majority of our imported gas comes from Norway and Holland, and we export over 30% of our conventional gas) – was a particularly egregious example of the rubbish Claire Perry talks about fracking. Next time, honourable lady, answer the effing question!

    [Figure corrected at poster’s request]

    You can watch the debate here from 11.00 onwards.
    https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/20e6bdbf-d3c3-4861-a54e-fd4e2fa10212

    • Someone IS out of touch Martin — YOU ARE. As for who is being bullied – the people are by a Govt.which cares little for the individual. Localism – laughable!

  3. Martin, your comments used to be fairly well balanced and interesting. As of late they have been anything but, so alongside GBK’s postings and a few others, I will no longer read them. In an earlier comment, you referred to yourself as ‘we’. Rather strange unless you are possibly representing an organisation rather than just your own views. No reply required – it would remain unread.

  4. Well done Ms Perry. The country we a minister with rationale and belief in their policy and not worrying about buying votes and giving in to the loudest intimidating nimby and ecco warrior.

  5. Based on what I saw today, which was a very heated debate, my opinion of Claire Perry is not a good one. Does she not appreciate that many of those concerned are from her own party? Some even supportive of the industry? She is the worst kind of “I know best” politician. She represents the very worst of politics, an MP in a safe seat that is, in my opinion, completely self absorbed, high handed and incapable of accepting that others may have a different view to her and that their view may be valid or indeed correct. Strange, given that she states she likes facts that she did not mention the two government reports that concluded that the benefits of shale were over exaggerated and that fracking increases local air pollution Her performance today makes one wonder whether it bodes well for the forthcoming assessment by the RS/RA of engineering report as it seems Perry and her ilk only accept reports when they suit their own agenda. And worse still withhold the information from the public.

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