County council fear government plan will force fracking

What the garden looked like before

Whitehall wants to use non-hydraulic fracturing [also known as dry fracking] to explore for shale gas.

And to speed this process up, Local Government Minister James Brokenshire has launched a consultation on a plan that could see this happen without a need for local planning permission.

Fracking is a controversial method of obtaining gas, which critics say creates environmental and health risks.

Cllr Mike Whiting, portfolio holder for planning, led the county councils response to the proposal, which he described as ‘confusing and frustrating’ for local communities.  

He said: “Whilst recognising shale gas development may have the potential to assist in securing energy supplies and delivering economic benefits, it is a contentious form of development that does not lend itself to a permitted development process.

“Such development requires decision making at the local level, where the community voice can be properly considered in shaping these proposals and in ultimately determining whether development should go ahead or not.”

The proposal states that local authorities would still be involved in planning decisions that affect them.

But Cllr Whiting said it was ‘not clear’ how this would work if dry fracking is considered permitted development – and not requiring of planning permission.

He added: “There is no clear role for the community voice to be properly considered in a permitted development proposal.

“The proposed regime is likely to be confusing and frustrating for local communities which rightly expects full community involvement for this type of development.”

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