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 »

  1. KatT. Your personal and political opinions are opposite to her and her party. So I think she will have very little concerns about the opinions of activists.
    She at least has the courage and strength to stand up her political conviction (the same way that the anti frackers have been bragging about their comrade who break the laws to stand up for their nimby course) and her party political mandate. Not like those chicken MPs worrying about votes and hidinf behind the door when face down by the loud intimidating ecco warrior and activists.

    • TW with respect you do not know what my political opinions are. Opposing fracking does not demonstrate my political opinions, just my opinion on fracking. And I’m afraid I have no idea who the so called political comrade is that is willing to break the law. You make sweeping statements based upon what? A little research and you will find out that some of the Conservative MPs that spoke out at this debate have very secure seats, with large majorities. I doubt very much they are only voicing their concerns because they fear losing their seat. In addition some of those MPs that spoke out are on record as being supportive of the industry but object to the current proposals (PDR/NSIP) which is what this debate was about. I respect the opinion of others, even if I may not agree with them. But I do not respect or agree with sweeping statements and stereotyping people in the way you do. Accusing people of being NIMBYs etc just because they oppose fracking and are very concerned about climate change is nothing more than unsubstantiated name calling.

  2. “Her strings are being pulled KatT; without the oil and gas lobbyists the party is a dead duck….”

    That may or may not be true….but it is mathematical and economical certainty without secured supply and with dependence on imports for our energy our economy and the majority of our industry, majority of UK families with fuel poverty will be dead ducks…..per your expression

    [Comment corrected at poster’s request]

    • No TW, That’s ridiculous; as we have said before, fuel poverty is a category formulated by the governance, it actually means anyone who cannot heat ALL of their home and would include those with very large properties worth millions who have fallen on hard times; poverty is poverty – that point where, by your own or external means, you can no longer afford to pay the ridiculously inflated prices for food, energy and consumables.

      This government have already secured security of supplies with LNG, trade with Norway et al and the North Sea fields. Renewables are being brought in albeit slowly due to the fingers in the proverbial pies, but they will increase as the finite fossil fuels become increasingly worthless as funds switch to other investments or pensions are phased out altogether.

      I find it incredible that this incorrect ‘PR’ is still running round; fake news as MC puts it. The record is stuck. Anyone who continues to post about supplies running out or Russian gas as support for shale will now place themselves in this category.

    • Enough! of the myth of cheap fuel being propagated to promote fracking. See the myth-buster produced by Fuel Poverty Action years ago here: http://www.fuelpovertyaction.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Myth-Buster-A5-sheet.pdf . It hasn’t changed: the cynical use of people in poverty as an excuse for wrecking the climate and local environments continues, in the face of all the evidence that in the UK, fracking will not bring down the bills.
      We are told we have to choose between the climate and being able to afford to heat our homes. This which would be a tragic dilemma if it were true. It is not. While fracking has been subsidised with tax hand-outs and policing and infrastructure support, and new laws have been passed to over-ride local democracy, the government has slashed all the measures which would really bring down fuel poverty — insulation programmes, the once- thriving solar industry, and on-shore wind: the cheapest of energy sources. To say nothing of wages and benefits that once provided a safety net against poverty of all kinds!

  3. You are obviously causing an impact now TW-they (how many-day and night shift?) think there are 3 of you!

    The sensitivity shown on this (non) issue would suggest a guilty conscious being redirected. Saucy goose.

  4. As a 57 year old semi-retired teacher from the South West I am one of the many protectors who have visited Preston New Road to support the community who said NO to fracking. With PEDL licences granted for the Somerset coast I have a vested interest in stopping this damaging fracking industry from taking hold in the North and South East of England. The Governments proposal for permitted development to be extended to big and ugly industrial plants in our countryside is a desperate move to kickstart a dead dog of an industry that is already on its knees because it has no social licence – with only 18%. of the UK support. The fact is a lot of people don’t want fracking so are using peaceful direct action to show their opposition and disgust at ignoring the wishes of local people. This proposal on permitted development seriously gags local democracy. I have been horrified at the number of police that have been deployed to protect the polluting fracking companies. They say they are there to protect me when protesting. but in reality I am there to protect them and their children from the current and future dangers of the fracking industry.

  5. It’s known as ridicule, which is what ridiculous comments draw. If I try the same approach in face to face dialogue that’s what I expect. The Internet should not be a cloak to allow false statements, fake news and baseless virtue signalling to mask lack of content, to excite some and to close down sensible comments from others.

    When virtue signals are made around how energy poverty could be magicked away whilst a policy of mass importation of a commodity is being proposed, losing huge quantities of taxation income that would go a long way to removing such realities, are the sort of suggestions that deserve ridicule. They were the same ridiculous policies advocated by a certain Green ex politician who found exactly that. The fundamentals don’t change just because the Internet is harnessed.

    I realise that makes me ancient-but I am, and don’t pretend otherwise.

      • ‘Old school honesty’ – there was never such a thing, it just stands for small cliques of baseless individuals who cannot see past the end of their ‘short’ trousers….

    • ‘should not be a cloak to allow false statements, fake news and baseless virtue signalling to mask lack of content, to excite some and to close down sensible comments from others’ – take your own advice

  6. Self critical is also a virtue but not very common. And extremely rare with the extreme activists ecco warrior and nimbies. And especially the ecco celebrity.

  7. I’m sure her degree in Geography qualifies her splendidly for making scientific and engineering decisions. Oh wait- she only has to listen to what the oil and gas industry “experts” tell her and be deaf to anyone else. I’m sure she does that very well.

    • Caroline Lucas is even better qualified to comment on “fracking” etc (not)…

      “Lucas won a scholarship at the University of Kansas between 1983 and 1984, then gained a Diploma of Journalism, before studying a PhD in English from the University of Exeter (awarded 1990) with a thesis entitled Writing for Women: a study of woman as reader in Elizabethan romance. After her doctorate, Lucas worked as a press officer for Oxfam from 1989.] Later, she worked for the charity in other roles, remaining active in the Green Party, but left Oxfam in 1999.”

      No need to worry about her getting in any ministerial position anytime soon….

      Personally I go with the Geographer rather than the writer….. An MBA from Harvard and extensive experience in business makes a much better Minister than Elizabethan Romance and Oxfam?

      • I would say the writer would have a better insight into people and their needs; I would prefer a leader who facilitates peoples needs rather than tells you what you need 😉

        [typo corrected at poster’s request]

        • CP is facilitating my needs – and anyone else who uses hydrocarbons in any form …..although I hear she is a proponent of onshore wind and looking at “facilitating” new onshore wind developments. Then she will be facilitating your needs and not mine?

          • As CP is not facilitating fracking, I would hope that she looks to both the needs of people like me and people like you.

            The fossil fuel industry can survive if it measures out its production, and could with clever management last way into the next century. Whilst it is managed by greedy super yacht owners it will sadly fail and take a big proportions of yours and my tax money with it, together with the very air we breath the food we eat and the water we drink.

            Balance is important; need should be measured and solutions put in place. Minimum finite fossil fuel burn, maximum renewable clean energy generation and no waste use. One size would indeed fit all…..

  8. I suspect a degree in Geography tells her what is over the horizon and what is within the UK, and the realities of both. Or, she could revert to the History of the 1970s and the impact of relying upon over the horizon upon UK jobs and UK economy.

    Nah, silly me. That’s her job, so too simple.

  9. The above article seems very appropriate for repeating a comment I made on another post – particularly as yet another weather event symptomatic of anthropogenic global warming hits the USA, at what financial cost compared to the profits from the fracking industry? To paraphrase, the Tories fiddle while the world burns (or floods, or blows down).
    Lest we forget!
    The whole 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 us exactly where we are 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.

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