Fracking and local democracy

Over recent days, I along with fellow Councillors have received the following message –
“It’s been leaked that the government wants to change the law so big energy companies can drill for gas – or ‘frack’ – in our countryside, regardless of what local communities and locally elected councils want. It wants to strip your power to vote against fracking for our community, and instead leave it up to government ministers with all the vested interest shenanigans that entails.    I am concerned this will set a precedent for the government running roughshod over local democracy on any decisions.     Please will you write to Liz Truss, the environment secretary; Amber Rudd, the energy secretary; and Greg Clark, the communities secretary, to call on them not to go ahead with these undemocratic plans?”
Nottingham Labour Councillors prefer when receiving messages from supporters of mass campaigners to write a united reply, and we are saying –
“Thank you for taking the time to write … over the Government’s plan to remove the ability for Local Authorities to block any fracking within their area.   As you can imagine, as a local councillor I am against any policy that would take decision making out of the hands of local representatives. This policy would make for a dangerous slippery slope of centralisation and should be resisted.   If the Government do classify fracking as a national infrastructure project and remove Councils from the ability to accept or decline such schemes it would remove a vital voice for local people and that is something I could not support.   A representative of the Labour Group will write to the ministers you mention in your email stressing our frustration that the Government would suggest such a way forward.”
As a member of a Planning committee, I may in the future have to adjudicate on an application for the extraction of shale gas from under Clifton in Nottingham. So I don’t want to say too much more on fracking.
I am concerned that the nature and scale of such an operation may not yet be appreciated – hundreds of wells are expected for the North Notts field – and I wonder how people will perceive such installations when concerns over the visual amenity (or otherwise) has deterred the roll out of wind turbines and solar farms.
Meanwhile, only on Friday, I bumped into members of “Project SENSIBLE” who were canvassing in The Meadows to see if we can do more about storing solar energy in homes using batteries and water tanks.
In January, planning permission was renewed for a larger waste to energy incinerator at Eastcroft, reducing the amount of waste going to landfill.
And full council debated the city’s general progress on energy policy.
There is more to read on sustainable development here.


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