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Council Objects to Fracking Changes

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Published by Local Democracy Reporter Jack Muscutt at 2:48pm 11th October 2018. (Updated at 3:40pm 11th October 2018)

East Riding of Yorkshire Council is to object to Government proposals to redefine fracking activities over concerns about local authority control.

A motion – and subsequent amendment – calling for a response to be sent to Government Ministers was given unanimous approval at yesterday’s full council meeting.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Phil Davison, who tabled the original motion, expressed his concerns that a key area of local authority planning control could be lost.

He said:

“The proposal to fast track fracking is not democratic, does not consider the views of those most affected and should be rejected.

We also know the potential damage that there could be to aquifers and water supplies as well as to the general environment of having it forced upon us in the East Riding.”

The row centres on Government proposals to bring drilling under “permitted development” – which would allow decisions to be made at national level without planning applications or the involvement of local authorities.

Under the proposed measures, which are under consultation, shale gas exploration could be placed in the same category of planning law as building a new conservatory.

The consultation also proposes to treat large applications for fracking under its Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime – taking away many of the powers from local authorities to block unpopular fracking applications.

Councillor Denis Healy (Liberal Democrat) added:

“The Government’s plans would be a significant loss to local decision making, and the idea of having fracking sites imposed on us by an unelected planning inspectorate is not acceptable.

Even more significantly [this] could see fracking established here via the back door.”

In an amendment to the motion, Cabinet portfolio holder Councillor Symon Fraser (Conservative) endorsed a “comprehensive response” to the Government’s consultation.

He said:

“The important bit for me is that we continue to seek clarification from Government and from developers as to how our residents, our landscapes, our vital infrastructures and our water resources will be protected into the future for East Riding residents.”

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