Rules on ‘frack­ing’ dam­age democ­racy

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Yourviews - Chris­tine Damiao

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

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