Who’s saying what on government plans to fast-track fracking?

pnr 180724 Ros Wills 8

Cuadrilla’s shale gas drilling rig at Preston New Road, 24 July 2018. Photo: Ros Wills

This post is tracking politician comments, council votes and petition signatures on government proposals to change the planning rules for shale gas developments in England.

A consultation opened in July on the proposals, which, if approved, would make non-fracking schemes permitted development. This would avoid the need for a planning application. Under the proposals, major shale gas production schemes would be classified as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. This would give decision-making to a government minister, bypassing local councils.

The consultation on permitted development rights and Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects ends on 25 October 2018.

We’ll be updating this post regularly. Please let us know about any council votes or comments made by MPs on this issue. You can contact DrillOrDrop here 

Last updated 30/10/2018 


180912 WestHall Planning debate Kevin Barron

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

Sir Kevin Barron, Labour, Rother Valley

Raised concerns about fracking near abandoned coal mines during a Westminster Hall debate on the government’s proposals, 12/9/2018 Link

Speaking at a Frack Free United fringe meeting on the proposals at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool at 12.45pm on 23/9/2018

Ben Bradley, Conservative, Mansfield and Warsop

Told the FT:

“My concern with this permitted development proposals is that residents ….will feel even more dictated to by government”, 18/9/2018 Link

He told The Times:

“Allowing [test drilling] as permitted development potentially could mean they could install that infrastructure at the end of your garden without you being able to have a say. I think it’s wrong”, 20/9/2018 Link

Ronnie Campbell, Labour, Blyth Valley

Signed House of Commons Early Day Motion opposing changes to planning rules in the National Planning Policy Framework, 12/9/2018 Link

Jim Cunningham, Labour, Coventry South

Signed House of Commons Early Day Motion opposing changes to planning rules in the National Planning Policy Framework, 10/9/2018 Link

Thangam Debbonaire, Labour, Bristol West

Told a constituent she would “oppose the government’s current proposals on this issue at every opportunity”. 18/9/2018

Paul Farrelly, Labour, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Signed House of Commons Early Day Motion opposing changes to planning rules in the National Planning Policy Framework, 13/9/2018 Link

James Firth, Labour MP for Bury North

Told the Energy Minister, during a Westminster Hall debate, that the proposals struck “at the heart of a community’s ability to determine its future”. He urged the minister to “take seriously the voice of the people on this issue”, 12/9/2018. Link

Yvonne Fovargue, Labour, Makerfield

Quoted in Wigan Today:

“The proposals would ride roughshod over local democracy and put drilling in the same category under planning law as building a small extension to a property. It would remove the important link between fracking applications and local plans and be harmful to the proposals of localism. 26/7/2018 Link

180912 WestHall Planning debate Ruth George

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

Ruth George, Labour, High Peak

Raised concerns about the consultation process on the government proposals during a debate in Westminster Hall, 12/9/2018 Link

Helen Grant, Conservative, Maidstone and The Weald

Wrote on her website:

“Responsibility for planning applications for onshore oil and gas activities, including for the exploration of shale gas, will be solely with local authorities.

“Fracking is not something that will be imposed by central government and it is right that local decision makers are involved in the process.” 16/8/2018 Link

Mary Glindon, Labour, North Tyneside

Signed House of Commons Early Day Motion opposing changes to planning rules in the National Planning Policy Framework, 13/9/2018 Link

John Grogan, Labour, Keighley

Signed House of Commons Early Day Motion opposing changes to planning rules in the National Planning Policy Framework, 11/9/2018 Link

James Heappey, Conservative, Wells

Told a Conservative conference event about government proposals to fast-frack fracking:

“I wonder if we should look again at fracking” 2/10/2018, Link

Nick Herbert, Conservative, Arundel and South Downs

180912 WestHall Planning debate Nick Herbert

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

Told energy minister Claire Perry, during a Westminster Hall debate, that he did not believe the government had a parliamentary majority for its proposals, 12/9/2018 Link

Wrote in the Littlehampton Gazette:

“I don’t think a major process as disruptive as drilling can be classed as permitted development which doesn’t need planning permission, akin to putting up a garden shed.” 20/9/2018 Link

Wera Hobhouse, Lib Dem, Bath

Criticised government response to Westminster Hall debate on shale gas planning changes, 12/9/2018

180912 Wea Hobhouse

Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative, Thirsk and Malton

Published his response to the consultation on his website. He said he continued to support the conclusions of the report of the House of Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee, published on 2 July 2018.  This said there was little to be gained from bring fracking applications under the NSIP regime or class shale gas development as permitted development.

During a Westminster Hall debate, called for clarity on whether the construction of an entire well pad would be covered by the permitted development proposals, 12/9/2018 Link

180517 Kevin Hollinrake tweet

Mike Hill, Labour, Hartlepool

Signed House of Commons Early Day Motion opposing changes to planning rules in the National Planning Policy Framework, 11/9/2018 Link

Kelvin Hopkins, Labour, Luton North

Signed House of Commons Early Day Motion opposing changes to planning rules in the National Planning Policy Framework, 12/9/2018 Link

Greg Knight, Conservative,Yorkshire East

Signed House of Commons Early Day Motion opposing changes to planning rules in the National Planning Policy Framework, 12/9/2018 Link

Opposed government proposals during a Westminster Hall debate, 12/9/2018 Link

Caroline Lucas, Green, Brighton Pavillion

Described the plans as shocking when they were announced. Quoted in the Guardian as saying:

“Britain’s fracking experiment was on life support and now the government is trying its best to shock it back into life”. 12/5/2018 Link

John Mann, Labour, Bassetlaw

Signed House of Commons Early Day Motion opposing changes to planning rules in the National Planning Policy Framework, 10/9/2018 Link

Kerry McCarthy, Labour, Bristol East

Told constituent in an email that she opposed the government proposals, 28/9/2018 Email from Kerry McCarthy 28 September 2018

Mark Menzies, Conservative, Fylde

Opposed government proposals during a Westminster Hall debate, describing them as “quite frankly bonkers”, 12/9/2018 Link

Jared O’Mara, Independent, Sheffield Hallam

Opposed the proposals and signed an open letter to the energy minister, Claire Perry. He wrote on his website:

“Removing the important step of requiring fracking companies to apply for planning permission to conduct exploratory fracking is misguided. It gives elected representatives and local communities chance to review what they need in their area. This step must be kept.” 12/9/2018 Link

Stephanie Peacock, Labour, Barnsley East

Asked Claire Perry during a Westminster Hall debate on the government proposals why her constituents, from a former mining area, should be asked to take “a huge leap of faith on behalf of fracking companies”, 12/9/2018 Link

Claire Perry, Energy Minister, Conservative, Devizes

Defended the government proposals at a Westminster Hall debate, 12/9/2018 Link

Lee Rowley, Conservative, North East Derbyshire

180912 WestHall Planning debate LeeRowley

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

Opened a Westminster Hall debate on the government’s proposed changes and opposed the proposals, 12/9/2018 Link

Told the FT:

“I know how divisive they are and how important the involvement of local residents is. It would be a thoroughly retrograde step for the government to pursue this, given the impact that it will have in rural areas.” 18/9/2018 Link

Announced that All Party Parliamentary Group on Shale Gas Impacts will examine the government’s proposals at its meeting on 22 October 2018.

Martin Sandy, Labour,  Ipswich

Signed House of Commons Early Day Motion opposing changes to planning rules in the National Planning Policy Framework, 13/9/2018 Link

Bob Seely, Conservative, Isle of Wight

Opposed government proposals during a Westminster Hall debate, fearing they would set a precedent for other developments, 12/9/2018 Link

Jim Shannon, Democratic Unionist, Strangford

Signed House of Commons Early Day Motion opposing changes to planning rules in the National Planning Policy Framework, 11/9/2018 Link

Asked the Energy Minister, during a Westminster Hall debate on the government proposals, for assurances that safety will be paramount, 12/9/2018 Link

Alex Shelbrooke, Conservative, Elmet and Rothwell

Raised concerns during a Westminster Hall debate on the government’s proposals about fracking in former mining areas, 12/9/2018 Link

Dennis Skinner, Labour, Bolsover

Signed House of Commons Early Day Motion opposing changes to planning rules in the National Planning Policy Framework, 12/9/2018 Link

Opposed government proposals during a Westminster Hall debate, 12/9/2018 Link

Matt Western, Labour, Warwick and Leamington

Signed House of Commons Early Day Motion opposing changes to planning rules in the National Planning Policy Framework, 11/9/2018 Link


Bath and North East Somerset, Conservative

180913 BNES council vote on shale gas pd motion

Members of Bath and North East Somerset voting to oppose government proposals on permitted development for shale gas schemes. There were three abstentions and no votes against. Photo: council webcast, 13/9/2018

Supported a Labour motion to oppose the government proposals 13/9/2018  Link and webcast

Blackpool Borough, Labour

Unanimously opposed the government proposals, 19/9/2018 Link

Brighton and Hove City, Lab

Voted by 23 to 17 to oppose government proposals, 18/10/2018, Link

Bromley Borough, Conservative

Council’s development control committee recommended to oppose government proposals, 11/9/2018 Link

Bury Metropolitan Borough, Labour

Council unanimously supported emergency motion calling for the withdrawal of the proposals, 12/9/2018 Link

Blackburn, Labour

Council leader, Cllr Mohammed Khan, in his report to the council forum, raises concerns about the government proposals:

“These proposals have the potential to remove or limit the role of the local authority planning process for shale gas extraction, and whilst at this stage there are no active projects of this type in the borough, I’m concerned that these proposals from the Government could set a precedent for driving future changes to planning decisions and limiting the role of local decision making. The Council will be responding to the consultation and outlining our concerns. ” 4/10/2018 Link to report

Cambridgeshire, Conservative

The economy and environment committee voted against proposals on permitted development. It did not propose to respond to individual questions on the NSIP consultation. 11/10/2018 Link

Cheshire West and Chester Council, Labour

Approved a motion, proposed by a Conservative councillor and seconded by a Labour member,  that fracking applications should be determined by local authorities. 18/10/2018 Details

Derbyshire County, Conservative

The council issues a statement saying it opposed both government proposals (15/10/2018). Cllr Simon Spencer says:

“We cannot see how you could just let through a proposal to explore for shale gas. There are many things to consider when looking at an application to do this and we know from recent experience that there is considerable local anxiety about these types of operations.

“We are also against the proposals to take the decision on shale gas production out of local control and include these decisions in something called the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project regime. This means that planning inspectors and the Secretary of State would make the decision, not local councillors.

“Both of these 2 changes would see local people being denied an opportunity to have their say, and this is unacceptable.”

The leader of the council makes a statement against the proposals, 15/8/2018 Link

Conservative councillor, Alex Dale, writing for Conservative Home, explains why he thinks proposed fracking changes “offend Conservative values”, 30/7/2018 Link

Doncaster Borough, Labour

Approved a motion committing not to allow any fracking activities on council-owned or controlled land and regretting that the government “now appear to be determined to force fracking on areas, regardless of local opinion”, 20/9/2018 Link

Dorset, Conservative

Councillors vote to oppose proposals for both permitted development and NSIP. They say the NSIP proposal has “not been fully justified”, particularly questioning why shale gas should be treated differently to conventional onshore oil and gas. Cllr Daryl Turner, cabinet member for the natural and built environment, said:

“there is a risk that the proposals will be perceived to undermine local democratic accountability and integrity in the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects planning regime”.  17/10/2018 Link

East Riding of Yorkshire, Conservative

Approved a motion strongly opposing the proposals to remove local authority involvement in shale gas planning decisions, 10/10/18 Link

Fylde Borough, Conservative

The council’s planning committee objected to the proposals on permitted development and NSIP, 5/9/2018, Link

High Peak, Conservative

Economy and Growth Select Committee recommended to oppose government proposals, 27/9/2018 Link

Hull City, Labour

The council’s planning committee unanimously backed a formal objection to the government’s proposals on permitted development and NSIP, 16/10/2018. Details

Councillor Diana Hatcher, said:

“This would override local decision-making.”

Isle of Wight, Conservative

Approves motion opposing the government proposals, 19/9/2018 Link

180919 Isle of Wight campaigners Frack Free isle of wight

Campaigners outside the Isle of Wight Council, 19 September 2018. Photo: Frack Free Isle of Wight

Lake District National Park

The national park authority agreed to issue a joint response with all other national parks in England that permitted development rights for non-hydraulic fracturing shale gas exploration should not apply in national parks, Link

Lancashire County, Conservative

Votes to oppose the proposals, 19/7/2018 Link

Leicestershire County, Conservative

The council was recommended to oppose the proposals for permitted development. On NSIP, the council was recommended to respond that it would be appropriate to include development that was genuinely providing infrastructure of national significance, 16/10/2018 Link

Lincolnshire County, Conservative

The council’s environment and economic scrutiny panel endorses a response opposing the government proposals, Executive member for economy recommends the council oppose the proposals, 18/9/2018 Link

Cllr Colin Davie, executive member for economy, said:

“It would be absolutely ridiculous that this kind of development could be dealt with under permitted development rights.”

Mansfield District, No overall control

Voted 29 against with 1 abstention to oppose the government’s proposals, 18/9/2018, Link

North Yorkshire County Council, Conservative

Council opposed both permitted development and Nationally-significant Infrastructure Project proposals.

North York Moors National Park Authority

Authority members endorsed an officer’s report opposing the government proposals for permitted development and the nationally significant infrastructure regime, 1/10/2018  Link to report

Nottinghamshire County, Conservative / Independent

180920 Notts CC motion approved unanimously

Council approves unanimously motion (below left) to oppose government proposals, 20/9/2018. Cllr Jim Creamer, vice chair of the planning committee, previously said the proposals represented “a blank cheque for frackers”. Link180920 Notts CC motion on shale gas consultation

Pendle Borough, Conservative

Councillors approve a motion that opposed government proposals on shale gas planning rules. It said they “represent a threat to local democracy and to the rights of local people and local communities”, 25/9/2018 Link to agenda

Reigate and Banstead, Conservative

Council leader, Mark Brunt, announced the council would oppose the proposals, 27/9/2018, Link (see 58 minutes into webcast).

Rossendale Borough, Labour

Cllr Christine Lamb, portfolio holder for regulatory services said:

“As a council, we believe that it should be up to local communities to decide whether nor not to allow fracking to take place in their areas”. 24/8/2018 Link

Rotherham Borough, Labour

Cllr Amy Brookes, writing on her website, opposes the proposals:

“I am very much against this and would seek for government to withdraw this proposal on the grounds that it is a misuse of the planning system and is not comparable activity  to the small developments – like  minor extensions, garden sheds or erecting a fence – that are normally considered under permitted development.” 8/8/2018 Link

Ryedale District, No overall control

Rejects government proposals 6/9/2018 Link

Sefton Metropolitan Borough, Labour

Approved a motion opposing the government’s proposals, 20/9/2018 Link

Sheffield City, Labour

Opposed both proposals in a detailed motion, 6 June 2018 Link

Shropshire County, Conservative

Opposed both proposals, 17 October 2018

Shropshire Council Shale Gas Consultation Response

Staffordshire County, Conservative

Opposed proposals for both permitted development and NSIP, 23/10/2018 Link

St Helens, Labour

Objected to plans for permitted development, 29/10/2018 Link

Surrey County, Conservative

Councillors voted to oppose the changes. Link to agenda

West Lancashire, Labour

Approves motion opposing government proposals and resolves local authorities are best placed to make decisions on shale gas exploration, appraisal and production, 17/10/2018 Link

West Sussex, Conservative

57 councillors approved a motion opposing the government proposals. There were no votes against and two abstentions. 19/10/2018 Link

Wirral, Labour

Cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Anita Leech, says the government proposals “must be opposed”. She says the council has formally responded to the consultation, opposing the proposals. 22/10/2018 Link

York City, Conservative/Lib Dem

Council votes for amended motion to oppose the government proposals, 25/10/2018 Webcast (vote at 2:50), Link to motion

Cllr Andrew Waller, executive member for environment, backs council response to oppose government proposals, 22/10/2018 Link

Conservative councillors reject the case for permitted development for non-fracking schemes 13/9/2018 Link

Lib Dem councillors oppose the government proposals and start a petition www.yorklibdems.org.uk/fracking 3/8/2018 Link

Parish and town councils

Voted to oppose government proposals:

  • Bridgwater Town, Somerset, 13/9/2018 Link
  • Brockham, Surrey
  • Copmanthorpe Parish, 14/8/2018 Link
  • Clatworthy Parish, West Somerset
  • Dilton Marsh Parish Council, Wiltshire, 18/10/2018 Link
  • Edwinstowe Parish, Nottinghamshire, 11/9/2018 Link
  • Frome Town, Somerset
  • Great and Little Barugh Parish, North Yorkshire
  • Habton Parish, North Yorkshire
  • Kilve Parish, West Somerset, 26/9/2018
  • Kirby Misperton Parish, North Yorkshire, 24/10/2018
  • Norton Town, North Yorkshire, 18/9/2018
  • Otley Town, West Yorkshire, 7/9/2018 Link

Campaign groups and organisations


1,547 signatures on a petition, 24/10/2018 Link


11,905 letters written to council leaders opposing the proposals 24/10/2018 Link

199,553 signatures on petition with 38 Degrees against the proposals 24/10/2018 Link

Friends of the Earth

65,474 signatures on petition opposing the proposals 24/10/2018 Link


42,484 signatures on petition opposing proposals 24/10/2018 Link

UK Youth Climate Coalition

The group writes to energy minister, Claire Perry, requesting a meeting to share concerns about proposed changes to the planning system for shale gas, 10/9/2018 Link to letter

Jake Woodier, from the UK Youth Climate Coalition, said:

“Youth voices are too often left out of the discussion when it comes to climate change. Fast-tracking fracking proposals not only subverts local democracy and the ability of local communities to have a say on what is permitted where they live, but also is completely incompatible with a clean, safe environment for ourselves and future generations.

“We are the ones that will bear the brunt of climate inaction, and, put simply, we need to invest in clean energy and end out fossil fuel addiction before it’s too late.” 26/9/2018

33 replies »

  1. You would hope the government might get the message and for once listen. The opposition is across all political parties including Conservatives. There are even more councils than listed here that have formerly opposed the current proposals, in fact I have not heard of one that supports them.

  2. This is an excellent piece of work, and shows how widespread opposition to this crazy plan is, even among Conservative councillors. Perhaps you can run a parallel post of all the councils that support this proposal … ie a blank page.

  3. I should wait, Ellie, until the councils are able to calculate the income they might attract from this crazy plan. There will be more pages than War and Peace!

    Just a few being premature. But, of course they have the fall back position as and when they have the benefits identified of being able to back track and blame someone else (Mystic Meg?) that financial information wasn’t available earlier.

    • I am sure Local Councils are hoping for a return on the £9,000,000,000 they have invested in fracking operations!

      They must have a little bit of faith in fracking, do you think???

  4. Another premature one!

    It is all so familiar. I have seen several such projects and there seems to be a reliance on the comfort blanket that there will be all input and no output. The reality of that is almost zero. The real question is whether it will be significant, and if so, how it will be divvied up.

    You stick with the comfort blanket Waffle, those in public service need to remember that a premature move to deny potential benefits to those they represent will be likely to cause a reaction they may find uncomfortable. Some of them will not remember, because their dogma will take over, but that will be made obvious.

    • This article is about saying no to the new plans to ride roughshod over the public and their elected councils….however I’m with Waffle; what income indeed? It will only cost austerity strapped councils money in bigger social care bills through loss of property value, more pot holes from heavy lorries, extra cost of policing, complaints from noise, lights and yes, the inevitable shaky shaky, damage to roads and infrastructure….

  5. To think that somebody actually sat down and told someone else that they had this great idea to make exploratory fracking permitted development.

    What a Muppet

      • Telling the operator to state what the standard should be then checking the operator is compliant against that standard.

        That is then called a ‘ Gold standard ‘

        As if that nonsense was going to go unnoticed.

        • Another gem

          Causing a 2.3 magnitude earthquake which shuts you down then asking if it is ok to create 2.6 magnitude earthquakes.

          BGS trying to get off the hook on this one by saying 2.6 magnitude is to big so make it 0.5 magnitude……….read on a bit further…..’for the next few operations’ and ‘can be adjusted over time’

          Really hard to work that one out.

          • Then there is the very important issue of experience. We know that many of the standards are set by the operator but who checks if the operator knows what he is talking about?

            Is this Government trying to give permitted development rights to companies with little or no experience?

  6. It is interesting how the anti frackers interprets news. If the Labour MPs say fracking is bad then it is a democratic majority but if the Tory which is the incumbent government say fracking should go ahead then it is undemocratic.

  7. They never could do the maths. TW. Always been a problem and will continue.

    Interesting they are losing support but continue with the nonsense that has brought them to it. Would be understandable if the situation had remained static, but it hasn’t, and they seem to be unable to cope with that.

    Their other difficulty is sorting democracy from mob rule. They might think they can utilise both. The wider public don’t agree. I remember the days where even some of the most ardent antis were pointing out it was a big mistake yet after a little while they gave in and became converts to sing from the same hymn sheet.

    “Austerity strapped councils!!!” You have to love it. Councils are being provided less money from central government as they are now able to keep more they raise locally. If they want to try and curtail the money they raise locally, and/or end up with large costs by trying to do so, then austerity will strap them. Simples. They need to explain that to the communities, not try and pass the buck. Perhaps it just identifies some of these councils lack the expertise to manage the responsibilities they sought? And then we see central government having to step back in when it is clear that those responsibilities are not being managed. The consequences of inaction or flawed action.

    • ‘They never could do the maths’

      You mean these guys.

      In a 2013 submission to Parliament, Bloomberg said it would cost between 47 and 81 pence per therm to extract shale gas in Europe (using USD-to-GBP conversion rates).

      The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies said in its 2010 report “Can Unconventional Gas be a Game Changer in European Markets” that shale extraction would likely be even more expensive, costing between 49 and 102 pence per therm.

      EY, in its 2013 report “Shale Gas in Europe: Revolution or evolution?”, went further still, saying it would cost between 53 and 79 pence per therm.

      And Centrica, which backs UK fracking firm Cuadrilla, said it would cost at the very least 46 pence per therm to frack, according to stats referenced in this 2012 EU report.

      Gas price trends at a glance


      By 2022/23 47.5 pence per therm

      The average of the above figures comes to 62.87 pence per therm

      So in 2023 UK shale would be operating at

      MINUS 15.3 pence per therm

      Then of course there is the additional cost of ‘gold standard’ , green completion , propane addition for calorific value correction , road damage , environmental damage , and the effects of house price devaluation etc etc

      Gas prices will always fluctuate but because the UK has such a diverse range of suppliers we will always be able secure good prices way below the high costs of UK shale.

      Please could someone explain this to Claire Perry and stop this madness?

  8. JP. I dont dispute the high possibilities that UK or EU shale extraction cost will make it uneconomic. But there is a possibility that the technology advances in recent years has bring down the cost while the nat gas price per thermal is going up and will likely go up even higher in future because of increase demand from China and worldwide.
    But here is also the math for battery storage which is a critical factor for the penetration into the grid.
    ” All the lithium battery available in the world put together will provide the world with enough supply of it electricity at current consumption demand for maximum 1h.” Bill Gate.
    ” Tesla wants to build produce 500 000 EV per year. To produce that many cars it will need all the available lithium produced globally each year”. So no more lithium battery for labtop phones tablet etc if Tesla has its wishes.
    So you you do the maths you can see how viable 100% renewables dream will be.

    • There are other ways to store and conserve power TW; don’t go down that route, it’s only a dead end – much like shale.

      • I’m interested sher how you don’t post links and evidence to substantiate your statement

        Let’s hear them

        One thing that will help all of us is my idea that there should be a fine if you have not insulated your property to a high standard. Maybe a drone inspection in winter of propertys using thermal imaging would highlight the wasted heat…

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