MPs to debate government plans to fast-track fracking


Photo: DrillOrDrop

Government proposals to relax the planning rules for shale gas sites are due to be discussed for the first time in the chamber of the House of Commons.

It follows calls for a debate by a cross-party group of MPs.

In May last year, the government announced plans to classify non-fracking shale gas sites as permitted development. This would allow operators to avoid the need for a full planning application and bypass the normal local authority decision-making process.

Ministers also proposed to designate major shale gas production sites at Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP). This would mean decisions would be made the local government secretary, rather than local councillors.

A petition against the proposals last year received more than 300,000 signatures. More than 600 councillors signed a letter opposing the measures. Conservative MPs had warned that the government may not have sufficient parliamentary support if there was a vote. The government has not yet published the conclusions of public consultations.

190328 debate montage

The debate, scheduled for tomorrow (28 March 2019), was proposed by the Liberal Democrat Wera Hobhouse, the Conservative Ben Bradley and Labour’s Sir Clive Betts.

Applying for the debate, they said:

“The proposed changes contained within the initial two consultations disregard the wishes of local communities, remove decision making powers from local councils and strip the requirement for fracking companies to apply for planning permission for shale gas exploration.”

This will be the first time in three years that fracking has been debated in the main chamber of the House of Commons and a first for the government proposals.

If the government goes ahead with the permitted development and NSIP schemes, they are likely to become law without primary legislation. This means they are unlikely to be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny.

Ms Hobhouse said:

“The government is still considering these consultations, and therefore this debate is not only important but vital.

“This government’s laissez-faire attitude towards the rights of local people is worrying, and their similar disregard for the UK’s carbon emissions is downright terrifying.

“[Investing in fracking] would be a huge step backwards in our fight against climate change; we owe it to our children, and their children, to do the right thing and invest fully in renewable energies. This country must not rely on fossil fuels any longer, and the transition away from them needs to be accelerated now.”

39 replies »

  1. Two wrongs don’t make a right Martin. On the other hand there’s nothing wrong with good ideas and schemes influencing politics. All those things should be scrutinised and made transparent. Anyway I’d need to be convinced of the reliability of those sources that you get over-exercised about.

    The costs to the world annually for climate change impacts dwarf subsidies for renewable energy by an order of magnitude. If anything there should be more support – always with rationales made clear to a public who are at last waking up to global warming realities. Many in the UK will keep rearranging the deckchairs though (we’re screened from the worst impacts here), or make matters worse by falling for the ‘benefits’ of the major looters and polluters.

  2. That is a silly answer, PhilipP.

    You should know that all industries lobby Governments, plus trade unions. It is up to Government to decide whether the lobbying reflects a sound investment. Sometimes they get it correct-like USA with fracking, “US set to eclipse Saudi Arabia as world’s biggest oil exporter”. Along that route having become self sufficient $6 billion can be removed from the strategic oil reserve (about the cost of one big wall) and now $200 billion being invested into new chemical factories, which will be much more environmentally friendly than the clapped out ones being replaced. Sometimes they get it wrong. Sometimes it conflicts with minority interests.

    It is up to each industry to make its own case. Just seems that oil and gas have a history of being able to do so (wonder why) and some other industries struggle. It is a competitive field, and the alternative sector needs to recognise that rather than rely on scaremongering instead of selling facts. (Just as an example, listening to the radio yesterday a guy from US trying to sell a few more million books regarding climate change was accepting that the new billions of middle classes would want to eat beef-actually most prefer chicken- but the answer was to add seaweed to the cattle rations! Now, that is nutritional nonsense, but perhaps he had been lobbied by a seller of seaweed. The concept has been followed via yucca for many years and the result is significant, but small. Apart from which, the day before I viewed another scientist explaining how seaweed should not be harvested, not even washed up seaweed, because of its value to the ecosystem. So, the seaweed fanatics can buy two books and still not have any enlightenment. Mind you, the seaweed will be hard to find when undersea mining for cobalt expands.)

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