MPs: Fracking should remain a local decision

5 Jul 18

Taking fracking planning decisions away from local authorities would be a “backward step”, MPs have warned.

Plans to deal with fracking applications nationally, rather than locally, would undermine local democracy, according to the housing, communities and local government committee.

The government has proposed to bring planning applications under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime, which is run by central government, but the HCLG committee objected.

Clive Betts, committee chair, said: “Taking decision making powers away from local planning authorities would be a backward step.

“It would remove the important link between fracking applications and Local Plans and be hugely harmful to local democracy and the principles and spirit of localism.”

The committee suggested that Mineral Planning Authorities, which operate locally, are better placed to deal with planning applications.

Betts warned that changes to the application process would risk intensifying the already “strained relationship” between local residents and the fracking industry.

The committee report, published on Thursday, recommended that the government clarify its position on fracking in the National Planning Policy Framework, and said its position currently lacks detail.

Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said: “MPs are right to denounce government plans to make it easier for fracking companies to drill without planning permission and slash the involvement of local people.”

A Local Government Association spokesperson said: “This needs to be up to local communities to decide.

“Fracking operations should not be allowed to bypass the locally democratic planning system through permitted development or national planning inspectors.”

An MHCLG spokesperson said: “Shale gas has the potential to power economic growth, support jobs, and provide a new energy source.

“We are consulting on shale gas planning guidance in the summer and will announce more information in due course.”

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