Local councils to be stripped of right to decide on fracking, Ministers are hoping to speed up Britain’s shale gas “revolution” by taking away powers from local councils to decide on controversial fracking projects by Rowena Mason, December 14, 2012, The Telegraph
Under new laws, Government ministers, rather than local authorities, could have the final say on more “nationally significant infrastructure” projects, including onshore gas extraction. Proposals in the Growth and Infrastructure Bill would would exempt shale gas plans from some local planning procedures and consultations. The laws are aimed at stopping local blockages in the planning system to fast-track infrastructure and boost economic growth. Campaigners, who warn that fracking could cause “major damage” to the landscape, could have less opportunity to challenge unwanted developments.
Edward Davey, the Energy Secretary, has promised that shale gas projects will be subject to tight environmental regulations and local areas will get “community benefits”. Towns and villlages could be paid to accept fracking in their areas, after Britain lifted the ban on the operation yesterday. Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, said shale gas exploration could resume with new controls more than a year after it was suspended after causing tremors in Lancashire. The decision paves the way for the exploitation of trillions of cubic feet of shale gas covering up to 60 per cent of the countryside. John Hayes, the energy minister, said exploiting shale gas might help “get the price of energy down”. … Mr Davey later said most experts believed that the chances of it affecting gas prices were “unlikely”
Paul Miner, the senior planning officer at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said ministers needed to get the support of local communities if fracking was to go ahead. “The Government doesn’t appear to have recognised the potential for major landscape damage, or the need to properly consider this at the local level,” he said. … Andrew Selous, the Conservative MP for South West Bedfordshire, urged the Energy Secretary to provide “generous community benefits” for areas affected. These are voluntary contributions by developers to an area where their business has a long–term impact on local resources and the environment. Speaking in the Commons, Mr Davey said it was “very important to make sure there are community benefits”, as well as environmental protection. He said communities should be reassured that shale gas extraction was safe. … A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said it is “too early” to know whether local areas would be offered monetary “community benefits”. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to: Scientist wants EnCana to be held accountable “Alberta Environment found methane, toluene and kerosene in the hamlet water. Kerosene is a red flag indicator of petroleum industry contamination. The community’s concrete water tower lid exploded off in January 2005 seriously injuring a worker, months after EnCana fractured the aquifers and diverted fresh water from its CBM. A propane torch was blamed. What if EnCana’s shallow fracturing caused methane to release? What if kerosene caused the explosion? The new water tower cost nearly $700,000. The $150,000 that EnCana promised the Rosebud Theatre (a few months after the first water well went bad) seems a cheap solution.”