LGA slams fracking approval by Javid

6 Oct 16

The Local Government Association has criticised Sajid Javid’s decision to overrule a local planning decision to give the go ahead to a horizontal fracking scheme in Lancashire.

The communities secretary today approved the proposal by energy firm Cuadrilla for horizontal fracking at Little Plumpton, saying that the government believed shale gas could help the UK improve the security of its energy supplies.

Backing the decision by a planning inspector to allow the project, Javid said the national need for shale gas exploration is “a factor of great weight” in planning applications and that matters of environmental concern that led to the scheme being rejected by Lancashire County Council “could be satisfactorily controlled by planning conditions or by other regulatory regimes and, as such, they can be attributed little negative weight in the planning balance”.

Javid also highlighted that government plans meant that local communities would benefit financially from shale gas exploration.

Responding to the decision, Judith Blake, the LGA’s environment spokesperson, said it should be for local communities to decide, through their locally democratic planning systems, whether to host fracking operations in their areas.

“Ensuring communities feel safe is important. Any company that applies for a fracking licence must assure residents through their council that environment and safety concerns can and will be adequately addressed before planning permission is considered,” she said.

"People living near fracking sites, who are most affected by them, have a right to be heard. Local planning procedure exists for a reason – to ensure a thorough and detailed consultation with those communities.”

Lancashire County Council highlighted this was one of the biggest planning applications ever put before any council, with tens of thousands of responses and substantial amounts of technical detail.

Council cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services Marcus Johnstone said authority’s development control committee carefully considered many hours of evidence both for and against the proposal.

"A local council, made up of councillors democratically elected by local people, and charged with serving their interests, is exactly the right body to make decisions on local matters. It is clear that the government supports the development of a shale gas industry, but I would ask them to do more to address the concerns of local communities and the councillors who represent them by supporting the best environmental controls,” he stated.

It is expected that Cuadrilla will begin fracking by the end of 2017.

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