Politics

Backbench Tories call for relaxed planning laws for fracking

A group of backbench Conservatives has urged the government to ease the planning laws on shale gas schemes.

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool, 20 August 2019. Photo: Ros Wills

In a short report, they called for a “new permissive planning regime” in areas where a majority of residents supported schemes in return for cheaper energy or a share of revenue.

The 1922 Backbench Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee said new shale gas proposals should not be forced on communities. But it said incentives could lead to what it called “a more realistic approach” to development.

The report, published just before the government’s full energy security strategy today, recommended:

“a new, permissive planning regime for all renewable schemes and any shale gas extraction schemes where a majority of residents, on a local referendum, are willing to support them in return for free/highly subsidised energy or a share of revenues to leave it open for a flexible negotiation.”

This suggests the committee is seeking to revive earlier Conservative plans to push fracking schemes more quickly through the planning system.

The committee also said:

“No community or landowner should have new schemes forced upon them, but members believe there are good incentives available that could result in a more realistic and permissive approach to new developments.”

The committee’s chair is Andrea Leadsom, the former energy secretary who announced the moratorium on fracking in England in November 2019.

Also in November 2019, she announced the government was scrapping of plans to make exploratory drilling for shale gas permitted development, without the need for planning permission. A consultation on those proposals was opposed by 97.5%. Ms Leadsom was replaced in a reshuffle just over three months later.

Today’s report said:

“There was strong support from Members for a proposal that developers should provide free or highly discounted energy to communities who, on a local referendum, consent to new projects in their area such as wind, solar, and shale gas extraction.”

The report also has a list of policy proposals, including

  • Turning off radiators in unused rooms
  • Taking appliances off standby
  • Reducing pressure to hot taps to avoid unnecessary heating costs
  • Reducing radiator settings on gas boilers

The 1922 backbench committees were established at the request of the prime minister. They are intended to give better access to the policy ideas of backbenchers.

This was the first inquiry to be completed by a 1922 backbench committee. The report followed three meetings in March 2022. There are no details of who attended the meetings.

  • Changes to the planning rules for shale gas and onshore wind were not included in the energy security strategy. More details

32 replies »

  1. So there it is, plain as daylight, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, in order for the incentive for letting fracking be resurrected, is suggested to be:

    “a new, permissive planning regime for all renewable schemes and any shale gas extraction schemes where a majority of residents, on a local referendum, are willing to support them in return for free/highly subsidised energy or a share of revenues to leave it open for a flexible negotiation.”

    And:

    “This suggests the committee is seeking to revive earlier Conservative plans to push fracking schemes more quickly through the planning system.”

    Andrea Leadsom / Losesom, eat your heart out. The Fossil fuel fracking industry has got people by the wallet and they ain’t gonna let go!

    If there was ever a more carefully planned strategy to enable fracking to be encouraged through the bribery of the local residents, then this is it.

    When common sense and science is against thei machinations of the fossil fuel fracking industry Just grip them tightly by the wallet, and squeeze and squeeze until their eyes water. And then the poor and poorer people will say

    “OK! You win! I give in! Just stop squeezing my assets!”

    I must admit, I hadn’t considered the fossil fuel frackers to be likened to the mafia before? I stand corrected.

    But strangely no talk of a windfall tax for every person in the country to benefit from? Just those who are already in energy poverty and will be again even more so in the autumn, who could benefit from letting their area be exploited by the fossil fuel fracking industry…..

    Hypocrisy, or what?

    I would say “words fail me”…. But they don’t. Not at all…..

  2. What is sauce for the Octopus is sauce for the golden goose.

    What’s wrong with a level playing field? Oh, I forgot. Silly me.

    However, those who were sold the pup of cheap renewables, and have not seen them, and are now told “here is a bill for another £150 billion plus to make the renewables work properly” may quite like the idea of cheap energy. Maybe they will ask the question whether they missed the £150 billion in the small print, to be told, “no, it was not thought important to include it, you pay not decide.” Perhaps they would like to decide now? The age of the YIMBY may be here, and may be Andrea can read an opinion survey better than some. Wonder what makes people undecided and what may make them decide? Hmm, that is either difficult if of one persuasion or blatantly obvious if of another.

    • Wasn’t a bribe of thirty pieces of silver considered a sin for selling your soul to the fracking industry, in those far off days of Yore?

      More like a SIMBY perhaps? You can work that acronym out for yourselves….

      Let him who is without SIMBY, cast the first shale stone….What have the Egan’s ever done for us?

      Words still do not fail me.

      • They never have, PhilC, but like the sketch, they are not necessarily making any sense.

        Landowners were guaranteed over £100k profit per wind turbine/year to get them built. Seems that memory has gone but the pieces of silver remembered. That’s what is called a selective memory, but the reality remains unaltered. I prefer the locals are offered something rather than the landowners.

        Mind you, the antis have previous of costing locals £400k, so what would they worry about?

        • Sorry your memory is not so good these days, Martin Frederick Collyer, must be all that fossil fuel pollution? The old selective memory seems to be getting rather too selective away from the inconvenient truth these days? Remember the 20 and counting questions? Too selective perhaps?

          What would happen if this travesty of democracy ever gets past the public outrage it will surely cause. Will be more money to the local landowners and the…err…. lobbied government enablers. And frack all for those real people in energy poverty and very real poverty.

          Because the object of the exercise, is always to keep your victims begging for more, and never giving them enough to get them out of your debt. Because then, the public wouldn’t need you any more, and that would never do, would it.

          The big sticky stick is a well known incentive of disaster capitalist totalitarian oppression over the victims of the oppressors.

          Whereas, being kind and generous to the public is a humane act. And the public in Britain, the people who are not in the club of the oppressors, have not had a humane government or corporate industry to rely on for humanity, for, what is it? 40 odd years or more by now? You can count that back yourself.

          What this reveals, more than any attempted spin, or sin for that matter, is the deception and deflection that it is fabricated from.

          It illustrates the sheer blatant cruelty, cynicism and inhumanity of those whose only desire is to manipulate and control their victims by whatever method works best for them. Make your victims so used to being ruled over by abject cruelty and corruption, that they become willing slaves, not just in their expectations, but even in their very thinking.

          The caged lion, will not even see the bars of their cage after a life of incarceration, pacing back and forwards, back and forwards for reasons they cannot even recall now in their entire life of incarceration. So much so, that the lion will not even attempt to leave the cage if the gate is left open. They have become not a lion any more, but a domesticated pussy. The slave owners will grin cruelly whilst they prepare an even more restrictive cage that the lion will meekly crawl into and be grateful for a few measly scraps to keep the spectacle alive.

          That is the fate of everyone who falls for this fraud and control freakery.

          And the weapon of choice, is money and profit, fear and poverty, bullying and punishment. Soon, they will not even perceive the invisible financial and behavioural bars that keep them in abject poverty away from freedom and critical thinking and free speech.

          If that is what you find so attractive and appealing. Then what does that say about you?

          I could say, but I’m sure you can guess….

          • The Sunday Sermon has expanded to weekdays!

            What I find appealing and attractive is to let the people decide. I happen to believe the people are not idiots controlled by others.

            Mr.Putin is one who has other ideas.

            Then, what does that say about you?

            Sorry, PhilC, there are a surfeit of sermons from all sorts of sources. I am rather selective. It really is fascinating the purpose this comment section is put to, though. This on shore oil and gas stuff must just be so boring.

            Lions, and April?

            Reminds me of asking a telephone keyboard operator to make a call for me to a Mr. Raffe, but to ask for Mr.G. as there were two. Gave her the number for the local zoo! She gave me a sermon afterwards, too.

            • Nope. No sermons. Just the inconvenient truth, Martin Frederick Collyer. You must have not been to a real sermon recently. The wrong denomination, perhaps? Sorry, they don’t do frack black fossil fuel candles locally, nor will they ever do.

              Maybe you will find better sermons from the cage owners at your local lion/pussy cage? They will be happy to return you to a much more restrictive cage. You will be better able to verbally pace back and forwards endlessly if it’s just a few feet wide between invisible bars. Less wear on the old shoe plastic….

              Do you have a personal line to Putin now? Must be crowded in there? All your back-up buddies in one tiny space. Those telephone kiosks getting too big to heat and eat at the same time now?

              The fossil fuel industry is Putin’s pet project for world domination, isn’t it. Thanks to the fossil fuel Industry and the conservative government’s financial funding connection with Russian Oligarchs. Not to mention Richi Sunak’s father-in-law’s connections with Russian IT? Or is that too selective of the inconvenient truth for you?

              Touché

              Nope. The unfortunate ones are the would-be totalitarian fossil fuel oiligarchs and their supporting paid for acolytes.

              Because, as you have demonstrated only too clearly, they never see the consequences of their actions until the tumbril delivers them to the bottom of the steps. That unfortunate and extremely inconvenient “green mile” never ceases to surprise the unwary. They think the cheering is the applause of appreciation…Oops…!

              Contrary to your own practices Martin Frederick Collyer, is that there is a natural medicinal limit to the verbal “compliments” and twaddle that is trotted out every day by the antithesis fossil fuel protagonists such as your good self.

              Perhaps you are not selectively discriminating enough? Considering your “esteemed colleagues” state of environmental health as demonstrated only too clearly on this page.

              The surfeit of your own somewhat “boring” weakly sermons (see what I did there?) are more of drivel than driven by humanity.

              That mismarketed satnav has taken you over an even more precipitous cliff into empty rhetoric yet again. No amount of feeling desperately for the non-existent ground beneath your feet, will prevent the inevitable vertical excursion down to never, never land.

              Aww! Shame? Not.

              Enjoy the trip!

  3. If we are currenlly looking at the Russian playbook, ie say one thing and do the opposite (I am sure our PM has a copy for bedside reading) – Francis Egan’s contention that Russian money is funding anti-fracking movements brings me to the point of thinking its the other way round, perhaps Russian money is actually funding fracking. And, is this committee actually promising that shale gas extracted in the UK will not be sold through the market? It all sounds very hit and miss to me, a fairlytale – how on earth can any of this be verified by the citizens and customers in the UK? The National Grid has also been privatised not so long ago…..

  4. I cannot think of a more divisive policy, considering how fracking tore communities apart previously. And something that sounds simple is often far more difficult to implement.

    There is opposition to renewables too eg solar farms and onshore wind, not just fracking.

    How for instance would they determine where the dividing lines for a development would be? What about communities that are not on the gas grid, do they discount their electricity? Some people in rural areas use wood or coal. How would a referendum be conducted and over how big an area? Impacts say from traffic or pollution can be widely felt. There will be a strong possibility of legal challenges. Will it take away the incentive to cut down on energy use, which we all should be doing, if energy it is free or cheap? This would defeat one of the objectives.

    And one can imagine how someone struggling to pay bills will feel if they see others in their area getting cheap energy but they do not.

    Last time the government tried to “streamline” planning to facilitate fracking there was a huge backlash, last time it offered incentives to local communities it failed.

    These are not insignificant developments therefore sites require due consideration in terms of traffic, noise, the environment, cumulative impacts etc, planning exists for a reason.

    I really hope the government buries this idea very quickly.

    • Incidentally, there is another extremely darker side habit of the antithesis fossil fuel fracking exploiters that says even more about them in very clear precise and unambiguous terms.

      And that is the possibility of attempts to shut up and shut down, anyone who could possibly derive any “benefit”, by a contractual agreement with the fossil fuel fracking exploiters for, say, 30 pieces of silver, or more likely 30 pieces of plastic social credit. Petro dollars? Yen? Roubles? Or just subservience, perhaps?

      That has been used previously in many situations of the fossil fuel industry here and elsewhere. For those who still suffer from selective memory loss, they may have conveniently forgotten what was done not so long ago in the similar circumstances.

      That well-used strategy, is the Non Disclosure Agreement. In such an agreement, an NDA will contractually force anyone who is foolish enough to fall for the delusion of reduced costs or financial gain into agreeing not to disclose so much as they have made such an agreement at all. Let alone what it entailed. What preferential treatment in what ever method, they may well be contractually bound to be silent.

      The distinct probability, is that any recipient of such a contract, will only receive any such benefit at all, and continue to do so, if they are contractually bound to stay completely silent about what, or how much, or in whatever methods are used to secure their financial or preferential “benefit”. This is big brother and Chinese style social contract by the back door. Their favourite method of entry.
      That can be taken, of course, to the point where they will not be permitted to even say that they are being in such an NDA at all. Punishable by whatever method, maybe on pain of prosecution and fines in court. Their credit rating eliminated, perhaps.

      Perhaps anyone who becomes in a position where they are approached to consider such an “opportunity” should be aware of the possible consequences of making any such agreement.

      Just a consideration worth expanding upon. You never know, it might not happen at all, if the people of this country have enough information at their fingertips to be aware of the possibilities and consequences of any such contractual terms.

  5. There are already on shore wind farms that have been allowed under this “freedom”, KatT, hence my comment about a level playing field.

    I can see that some locals may be against, some for, but that is exactly the same for all local developments. Heaven forbid that a full appraisal of local opinions, considering benefits as well as downsides, should be a major input! Might be bad news for those wanting to speak for the locals, but the silent majority having a voice is no bad thing IMHO.

    • Martin if it you could trust that people were just give facts that would be one thing but having seen the disinformation already, the half truths and baseless accusations, and given how contentious fracking is I stand by my comments.

      I saw how fracking tore communities apart, it is an extremely contentious issue and i would hate to see that again.

      • Oh, KatT, you have gone over to the dark side!

        There was I thinking you were one of the few who didn’t feel that others were idiots who needed more others to make their decisions for them. Those others who have frequently posted about their greater ethics, morals and intelligence on this very site. Meanwhile, the “idiot” others have just been handed a bill for £150B that was not even within the small print. (I don’t mind the increase in nuclear, but I suggest the nonsense bubble about cheap renewables has been burst, and should be left for a few stupid politicians.)

        Sorry, KatT, it was the anti mob who were prancing about with devil masks to depict Sir Jim, and many other bits of nonsense.

        It is rather interesting to see the reaction to a level playing field, where locals can decide an issue, just as they already have done for some wind farms. What is the problem? Locals are too thick to decide, or they are actually too intelligent and may decide something others don’t want? Sounds familiar, and rather unfortunate, when international news is considered. And, there you were recently trying to separate from comments about Russia. Maybe the best way to do that is pretty simple-let the locals decide. You know the ones I refer to, the ones who would not accept the inconvenience payments from Cuadrilla because they were all against, yet when it came to it, they did not. Who was supplying that disinformation? And, who was actually supplying most of the inconvenience?

        I can see your problem, but it is your problem for your mob to solve. I suggest something different is required. The silent majority are happy to stay silent if they believe they have no connection to an issue. They will not stay silent if they think their incomes are being restricted to placate someone else. There will be tea in the water! No taxation without representation. It took a war in America, and a referendum in UK, but locals have a way of showing they are not idiots.

          • [Edited by moderator]

            The people of this country were once very poorly informed about the true consequences of fracking and all the other avoidances of the word fracking operations that were planned in the UK. However, now people have twenty years of slow, but informative information about the fossil fuel industries fracking intentions and the environmental and climate consequences. And that isn’t even addressing the health consequences of fracking worldwide, with 1 in 5 people dying from fossil fuel pollution every year. The fact that the entire planet Earth is now deep in the grip of the sixth major extinction level event in the Earths entire history, and that climate change is destroying vast areas of oceanic life and threatens to drown all coastal and island regions.

            I am sure you will have noticed that the same fear of the truth prevents any of those twenty or more questions being answered. Why? Perhaps you could ask the one who has just attempted to influence your opinions. And that is not myself.

            [Edited by moderator]

          • [Edited by moderator]

            getting back to the proposal. If locals are looking for information they will certainly have an interesting experience viewing and trying to understand what they read on this site! Just a load of cobras, as Benny Hill would have said.

            So, then they can be referred to as locals without the necessary level of intelligence to understand. Not very believable when a load of cobras are the alternative approach. (Looks as if this Sunday Sermon may feature Adam and Eve!)

            As I stated earlier, I would suggest in the event of locals being consulted then a different approach may be needed. But, hey ho, I know that will not happen as it would appear the die has been cast and will not be changed. In which case, there is a problem and indeed, you should be concerned.

            However, enjoy your weekend, KatT. It looks as if the real spring is about to start, cricket season underway, and I may therefore risk my giant sunflowers moving outside so my grandson can measure their growth, notice the bees from the neighbours hives, and later the birds. No cobras, but I did see a slow worm yesterday who had found a sunny spot, although maybe too early for his/her own good.

            [Edited by moderator]

              • ~~~~~~~~< is that a snake? Chuck it in the lake! No nope ropes allowed! Cobras are banned!

                Meanwhile, back in the Real World

                Just to remind those who have not been driven away in despair of ever reading anything relevant to the subject. Which to remind you, is "Backbench Tories call for relaxed planning laws for fracking".

                This is a Drilled Podcast Report by Amie Westervelt. The audio companion to Part 1 includes both Joyashree Roy and Julia Steinberger. The title is:

                More on the IPCC Report: Economics, Conflicts of Interest, Media Manipulation & More
                https://www.drilledpodcast.com/more-on-the-ipcc-report-economics-conflicts-of-interest-media-manipulation-more/

                The full transcript of the report on the IPCC Report Part 1 is included, and touches on the demand and supply, poverty and what can be done to mitigate the impact of fossil fuels at the same time. Well worth reading and listening.

              • [Edited by moderator]

                So, where is the accurate information going to come from, KatT? (That is a question, not an instruction.) I think there is a real problem and it is within your ranks and not my problem. (That is a repeated comment.) I will continue to attempt to provide accurate information, and trust I will maintain higher standards in that respect than some. The information may not be to everyone’s liking, but then, information doesn’t have to be, and can be challenged. (More comments.)

                [Edited by moderator]

      • [edited by moderator]

        You are quite correct, of course, the fossil fuel corporations have long since promoted division between communities. It’s the ancient and well known process of divide and conquer tactics to separate their chosen targets from each other so that people are divided and easier to be individually overcome by bribery, coercion, bullying, threats and just plain nasty abuse.

        All of which have become only too evident on Drill or Drop, though not out of choice, I might hasten to say.

        Have a good weekend.

  6. No matter how high up fracking might be on a wish list, it won’t work to release gas reliably if the geology is wrong. And that is the situation throughout most of the highly fissured and faulted Bowland shale. In any case, even just drilling exploratory wells is energy greedy and ridiculously expensive. Literally pouring money down a hole. And for only a finite substance, soon burnt or lost to the atmosphere.
    Of course a ready made empty hole has great value as landowners know. Those with waste to dump will pay you very good money to fill the hole up for you. There’s going to be a lot extra nuclear waste needing a home if/when more nuclear power stations are set up.
    As for local referenda. Who will guarantee that accurate information is presented to the public before they vote?

    • Is it any different to any other planning issue, Muriel? Buyer beware, DYOR etc. etc. Interestingly, in my area the worst offenders in not supplying accurate information are applications for stables, and many I know in the equine sector tell me it is pretty widespread-yet, stables still get built.

      Where was the £150 billion plus accurate information when solar farms and wind farms have been within the planning stage?

      Maybe pouring money down a hole, but not tax payers money. The same happens down my local every night.

    • Muriel
      You would be correct in that gas may not be recoverable from the shale. Re dumping, there are hundreds of old oil wells without nuclear waste in them, even though the waste has been looking for a home for years. Plenty offhore as well ( thousands ). But oil and gas wells are not suitable for that purpose. Have a look at thr Theddlethorpe plans. That is what a waste repositry would look like.

  7. I think its a brilliant idea let it be governed by the people not just the wealthy land owners & the great unwashed tree huggers. what’s the point of saving the planet if the people are freezing to death.

    • Engineering Just emptied my piggy bank and contracted proposals for 3 new land rigs…. Phone has been ringing off the wall!
      Turning water in to wine,
      Get it awn!!

    • Let’s play around with that…err…”contribution” shall we? Maybe the odd terminological Inexactitudes can be corrected and rendered more rationally coherent.

      “I think it’s a crazy idea. Better to let the windfall tax be governed by the victims of energy poverty abuse and shared by everyone in the country, not just the wealthy government, the fossil fuel corporations & the great unwashed rig huggers. What’s the point of freezing to death if you are not saving the planet.”

      There. Not a perfect job of cleaning up the toxic sludge. But the original was just plain stinky. Which is just what the human race will have to do to clean up the entire planet after the suicidal fossil fuel fanatics are led quietly away to that great fracking asylum 2.5 kilometres down, closer to their boss.

      Where they can clean up their own mess for a change.

    • Except the landowner will have to want it on their land in the first place. And I’m sure they will get far more than the locals or why bother?

      • Hi Kat T, yes, hopefully most landowners in rural areas will be very well aware of the dangers of fracking chemical pollution, noise pollution, light pollution, radioactive waste water, reinjected or trafficked to registered disposal treatment plants, and the increasing traffic of gas guzzling HGV’S into narrow unsuitable lanes in their locality.

        Has anyone ever asked why the fracking industry invariably choose remote rural locations rather than brownfield sites or built-up areas in towns and cities? Perhaps because the opposition would be far too concentrated, visible and effective for comfort? Rural areas tend to be hidden from the sight of the majority of the carefully dumbed down public view.

        Except, of course, for the valuable published reports from Drill or Drop? At least we can be grateful to Drill or Drop for keeping everyone informed so expertly.

        Thanks for your link in your previous post, by the way, that information is invaluable. I’ll repeat it here with your permission, just for the record of events, of course. With that level of propaganda by the fossil fuel lobbying group paid for by Russia and Big Oil, a pattern begins to emerge of how the fossil fuel lobbying groups and the fossil fuel industry as a whole, intend to play as “dirty” as they possibly can to get the moratorium on fracking overturned. Even when there has never been any such evidence of violence, at any time in the last 20 or so years of protests worldwide and in the UK. Indeed, the only violence ever recorded, came from the police and the hired security agencies. There are already hints of that deceptive propaganda emerging in the posts of the antithesis fossil fuel protagonists.

        ‘Violent’ Climate Activists Next Global Threat. Says Lobbying Group Funded by Russia and Big Oil
        Nafeez Ahmed
        23 March 2022

        https://bylinetimes.com/2022/03/23/violent-climate-activists-next-global-threat-says-lobbying-group-funded-by-russia-and-big-oil/?fbclid=IwAR1fBYv81E4Y3ixa-DNojLZIUl0XojWIvSDIkc_62xsTqjeLiYYj1BOYUKg

      • Yes, KatT, it took a load of dosh to get many landowners to accept wind turbines, but when the money was enough they signed up in droves and the politicians then stated how welcome wind turbines were to local communities! Many local communities then said, no, we didn’t, we want them gone. Then, to get some more built locals were rewarded too.

        It has worked before, it will work again. The difference with this proposal is that the locals will also gain, but not have to go through that long process..

        • Here’s another one for you, read what the title says, and you will see how appropriate it is:

          Badass Woman Snake Tackle Nope Rope

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