Rules on ‘fracking’ damage democracy
THE residents of Cheshire need to be aware that our local democracy, evolved over centuries, is under imminent threat. Sadly, the source of the threat is our own Government.
Communities Secretary Greg Clark – who in 2015 told the Local Government Association that ‘powers annexed by central Government over decades should be returned to local government’ – is preparing drastic changes to planning law which would exclude local authorities from having any say in decisions on the exploration and production of shale gas in England.
He plans to make exploration for shale gas ‘permitted development’ for which no planning permission is required.
Permitted development is designed to facilitate minor, uncontroversial changes such as erecting a fence or a garden shed, not major industrial developments.
While many of your readers may be undecided about the merits of shale gas development (popularly known as ‘fracking’), I think we can all agree that it is neither minor nor without controversy.
In addition, the Department For Business, Energy And Industrial Strategy is preparing to take planning decisions on shale gas production away from local authorities – all decisions would be taken by a Government-appointed planning inspector.
These changes could result in multiple industrialscale well sites being constructed all over Cheshire, with local people and their democratically elected representatives having absolutely no voice, no influence and no control.
These proposals are currently open for public consultation, and an effective response is essential to protect our right to have a say in the kind of Cheshire we want to live in now, and leave for the next generation.
I would urge everyone across Cheshire to contact their MP and their parish, town, district and borough councillors immediately and ask them to sign the open letter on the website gofossilfree. org/ uk/ letcommunities-decide
Everyone can also add their name to the ‘Don’t fast-track fracking’ petition being run by 38 Degrees and the Campaign To Protect Rural England (CPRE) you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/ don- t- fast- trackfracking