Govt to fast-track fracking through planning system Press Release by Friends of the Earth, August 13, 2015
Responding to news that the Government is attempting to fast-track fracking
applications through the planning system, Friends of the Earth planning
adviser Naomi Luhde-Thompson said:
“Bulldozing fracking applications through the planning system, against the
wishes of local people and councils, will simply fan the flames of mistrust
“Local authorities have been following the rules. These changes are being
made because the Government [or industry?] doesn’t agree with the democratic decisions
councils have been making.
“It’s no wonder fracking’s unpopular when even the frackers admit that
it is unlikely to cut energy prices. It also threatens house prices and the
environment of local communities and will cause more climate change.
“Rather than riding roughshod over local democracy to suit the interests of
a dirty industry, ministers should champion real solutions to the energy
challenges we face, such as boosting the UK’s huge renewable power potential and cutting energy waste.”
Notes to editors:
1. The delays with planning applications have frequently been caused by
developers. For example, Cuadrilla asked for a deferment to submit more
information on two planning applications in Lancashire. Third Energy failed
to provide sufficient information to enable an application to be validated.
Government will step in if councils don’t fast-track fracking applications, New planning guidance gives local authorities 16 weeks to approve or reject planning applications, after which ministers can intervene on a decision by Adam Vaughan, August 13, 2015, The Guardian
Ministers will intervene on planning applications for controversial fracking operations if local authorities [dare to say no because they determine fracing is too harmful for their communities or] fail to act quickly enough, the government announced on Thursday, in a bid to fast-track fracking.
Industry and the government have been frustrated at the slow rate of progress on exploratory fracking for shale gas and oil in the UK, which has been bogged down in the planning process. [Damaging earth quakes caused by fracing might be one of the endless reasons local authorities are taking their time and studying hard to find out what the harms will be in communities they are responsible to protect before they happen] Ministers have been told that applications to drill and frack in Lancashire could be delayed by 16 months in an appeals process after they were rejected by Lancashire county council.
Under the new planning guidance issued today, councils will be strongly encouraged [threatened with removal off council if they don’t, some other threat?] to meet the existing deadline of 16 weeks to approve or reject fracking applications. Greg Clark, the secretary of state for communities, will now systematically be able to ‘call in’ applications and decide himself. [MASSIVE FRAC DEREGULATION JUST LIKE IN ALBERTA AND TEXAS]
David Cameron said last year that the government is “going all out for shale” and energy secretary, Amber Rudd, said after the general election that she would “deliver shale”.
The Lancashire applications by energy company Cuadrilla, to drill and frack eight wells, were first submitted in May 2014, but Lancashire county council’s development control committee repeatedly delayed to consider more evidence. The committee finally rejected the bids in June, on the grounds of unacceptable visual impact and noise. [This right has now been taken away by industry/Cameron]
The new guidance will affect shale applications at an early stage in Yorkshire and the Lancashire case, as shale appeals and call-ins will now be prioritised by the Planning Inspectorate. [Corporations doing the harms will get rubber stamped approvals like AER gives corporations in Alberta, no matter how dreadful the anticipated damages. Is the AER coaching Cameron et al?]
Officials said the changes did not affect other planning hurdles that shale gas companies had to go through, such as applying for environment permits.
Clark said: “People’s safety and the environment will remain paramount and communities will always be involved in planning applications but no-one benefits from uncertainty caused by delays in planning decisions. By fast-tracking any appropriate applications, today’s changes will tackle potential hold-ups in the system.” [Same propaganda spewed forth by Harper/Alberta/Encana et al for the massive oil industry deregulation across Canada to enable unaccountable poisoning of groundwater, water ways, air, communities, families…]
Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services at Lancashire county council, and a Labour councillor on the committee, said that councils already had to make planning decisions within 16 weeks. The reason the Cuadrilla case had “dragged on” so long, he said, was the deadlines had been extended to get more information.
“I can see what the direction of travel is: it’s to remove local determinism, and the right of local people to have a say,” he said of the new guidance.
Johnstone added that reducing the role of local planning risked storing up problems later. “If they [government] don’t gauge the anger now, they run a real risk of not giving the public any outlet to express their views. If you shut out off the safety valve, you’re going to have problems.”
Rudd admitted the UK had not moved very fast yet on shale exploration, but made clear that she would not allow the current delays to continue, saying they don’t serve anybody.
These changes are being made because Government doesn’t agree with democratic decisions councils have been making.
Naomi Luhde-Thompson, Friends of the Earth
“What we’re signalling today is the delays that have been taking place on deciding if these applications could go ahead, have simply been taking too long. Local authorities are still going to be very much involved, but the secretary for communities and government will have an increased role in making sure they stick to the planning timetable which is already in place,” she told the BBC.
But campaigners contrasted the government’s approach to localism and shale gas, with its action on planning rules for onshore windfarms. In June, the government changed planning rules to make it easier for local communities to block wind turbines, which now must be “clearly backed” by local people in a local or neighbourhood plan.
Naomi Luhde-Thompson, Friends of the Earth’s planning adviser, said: “Bulldozing fracking applications through the planning system, against the wishes of local people and councils, will simply fan the flames of mistrust and opposition.
“Local authorities have been following the rules. These changes are being made because the Government doesn’t agree with the democratic decisions councils have been making.”
Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP, said: “This is a shockingly anti-democratic and environmentally reckless move. Yet again, ministers are doing the dirty work of the shale gas industry and taking away the rights of local people to say no to fracking, whilst making contemptible claims that fracking is somehow compatible with tackling climate change.”
Industry welcomed the changes [Cuadrilla likely created them], saying the current planning process was “unwieldy”. In a statement, Cuadrilla said: “Local authorities are expected to assess and determine planning applications of all types within a certain timeframe so this announcement is primarily about getting the existing planning system to work as it is intended.”
“There is no good reason why an application for a shale gas exploration site should take three to four times longer to determine than an application for a major housing development a supermarket or a large scale quarry.” [What about the very good reason that fracing causes serious health and environmental harms, while supermarkets do not?]
Under the new guidance, officials said councils will be labelled as “underperforming” if they fail to act quickly enough. Johnstone said it was not clear what change there would be, as councils could already be deemed underperforming if they did not determine enough planning applications in time.
The government also said today that it would later this year be detailing the design of a long-promised sovereign wealth fund for shale. Public support for fracking for shale gas has slumped to a new low, with just one in five people backing it, according to government polling published last week.
Today’s planning guidance does with the need for shale gas companies to apply for planning permissions for water monitoring installations at fracking sites, which they will now only have to notify councils of. [Emphasis added]
[Refer also to:
Today,  years later, there are over 580 such publications, and that number increases daily. Alarmingly, about 80% of those have been published since January 1, 2013 and over 50% in just the past year and a half: where it has occurred, shale gas development has been done largely in ignorance of its impacts. A review of those 580 publications in the key categories of impacts to human health, to air, and to water reveals that
94% find harmful impacts to human health,
69% find harmful impacts on water quality, and
88% find harmful impacts to air quality.
On top of this nascent but rapidly growing base of peer-reviewed publication of data and information there now comes the CNA report adding a timely and exhaustive basis for giving context to these harmful impacts in the Marcellus play, and especially that part not yet developed, the Delaware River Basin. The epoch of anecdotes is over: we know have firm scientific evidence of the harmful impacts of shale gas development as forecast in the CNA report.
2015 06 29: UK: Lancashire Council Votes 9 to 5 Against Cuadrilla’s 2nd Frac Application! Deals Blow to Shale Industry, Big Blow to Industry’s Break the Law “Alberta Model” and Synergy Alberta Pimping AER’s Deregulation to Enable “Brute Force and Ignorance” on Defenceless Communities Everywhere ]