Three petitions with a total of 300,000+ signatures were handed in this morning to the government, opposing its plans to fast-track fracking decisions in England.
The petitions, organised by the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Friends of the Earth and Sum of Us, were delivered to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government on the final day of the public consultation on the proposals.
The government has proposed to make non-fracking schemes permitted development, avoiding the need for a planning application. It is also seeking to classify major shale gas production developments as nationally-significant infrastructure projects, known as NSIP, where decisions are made by a minister, rather than a local authority.
At the time of writing, almost 200,000 people had signed the CPRE/38 degrees petition. Almost 66,000 had signed the Friends of the Earth petition and more than 42,500 signed the petition organised by SumOfUs.org
The Times reported that about 20 Conservative MPs were expected to vote against the proposals if ministers tried to push them through parliament next year.
A tracker by DrillOrDrop has logged public opposition from more than a dozen Conservative mineral planning authorities, including Bath and North East Somerset, Bromley, Cambridgeshire, City of York, Derbyshire, Dorset, East Riding of Yorkshire, Isle of Wight, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Surrey and West Sussex.
DrillOrDrop also recorded two Labour-led mineral planning authorities – Cheshire West and Chester and Rotherham – which have publicly opposed the proposals.
Daniel Carey-Dawes, Senior Infrastructure Campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said:
“The Government claims to champion localism, but its proposals to fast-track fracking fly in the face of this rhetoric. These 300,000 signatures represent a level of opposition that cannot and must not be ignored. To overlook this clear lack of public consent and push ahead with these proposals – which would deny the very people who will be directly affected by the risk fracking poses to our countryside and environment, the right to oppose it – would be a complete disregard of their democratic rights.”
Rose Dickinson, campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:
“The government’s proposals would allow fracking companies to drill for gas, using rules originally designed to make it easier to put up a garden shed. So, it’s unsurprising that 300,000 people and many MPs and councils are opposed. The government want to wrest decisions away from local communities which could lead to the industrialisation of our countryside. To solve the climate crisis we need to be moving away from fossil fuels, not making it easier for companies to dig up more”.
DrillOrDrop reported earlier this month on a national week of action against the proposals.
Sebastian Kelly, Let Communities Decide Campaigner at 350.org said:
“Communities have been taking action to oppose these proposals because they realise that urgent action on climate change means no new fossil fuel development, and abandoning plans to fast-track fracking by bypassing local democracy. The Government must listen to the growing concerns from climate scientists, communities, Councillors and MPs and immediately drop these undemocratic and reckless proposals.”
Consultation on permitted development (ends 11.45pm on 25 October 2018)
Consultation on Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (ends 11.45pm on 25 October 2018)
Updated 15.06 on 25/10/2018 to replace Shropshire with Staffordshire