The government is about to close two consultations which propose significant changes to the planning regulations surrounding fracking.
Fracking started in the UK last week for the first time in seven years. In the same week, three activists were released following their imprisonment for protesting against fracking and over a thousand people marched in Preston to show their opposition. These two consultations propose to reduce the role of local planning authorities and communities in the planning decisions for different stages of fracking; the first will speed up the development of ‘exploratory phase’ fracking by making it a ‘permitted development’, and the second will move ‘production phase’ fracking under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime, giving central government the final say on planning decisions.
We have responded to both these consultations to oppose these changes for three reasons:
- There is an inherent conflict and contradiction between support for investment in new forms of fossil fuel extraction and the UK’s commitment to decarbonisation and clean growth.
- An attempt to reduce planning timescales, stymie public opposition and increase the discretion of central government to approve shale gas production against the wishes of local communities runs against the principles of localism and devolution that the government has otherwise supported.
- The case that unconventional gas could play a significant part in the UK’s future energy mix, and the infrastructure that would be required to support it, is completely unproven at this time. The level of recoverable resource, cost of energy, environmental and greenhouse gas emission impacts, infrastructure investment and route to market are all unclear and highly contested.
If you’d like more information on why fracking should not take place in the UK, take a look at the blog I wrote last week.
Our consultations can be downloaded below – if you would like to respond to these consultations, please feel free to use ours as a template. The consultation deadlines are 25th October and the government pages can be found here: Permitted development for shale gas exploration and here: Inclusion of shale gas production projects in the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) regime.