Fast tracking planning decisions over fracking

Cuadrilla exploration drilling site in West Sussex. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Cuadrilla exploration drilling site in West Sussex. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Fracking is an issue which is again in the media after the Government’s announcement that any applications made to councils for fracking which have not been decided on by the 16-week statutory deadline will be called in and decided by the Secretary of State.

Planning is there to protect areas which can’t be developed and these decisions made by the Secretary of State will be taken in full accordance with planning law.

David  Morris

David Morris

As I am sure many of you will already know, I am pro fracking. Having looked at all of the evidence and knowing we have the most stringent legislation, I believe fracking is safe and is going to be a huge benefit to our future energy security. And if it happens in our area could create up to 2,000 local jobs.

We need to get away from a system where local councils are dragging their feet for a year on applications, prolonging making a decision on something which is of vital importance to the country’s energy security in the future.

The application recently rejected at Preston New Road was recommended for approval by officers and was rejected by councillors on legal advice from Friends of the Earth which means Lancashire County Council would likely lose a lengthy appeal at great cost to the local taxpayer.

There are a lot of scaremongering stories relating to fracking and pressure from lobbying groups, so its understandable councillors are under a lot of pressure but they must not allow this to cloud their judgement and take proper advice from their officers who are well versed in planning law.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg 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.”