21st Century Wire says…
This is truly a remarkable development taking place in Britain. Central government appears to have dispensed with any remaining vestiges of modesty, and has fully discarded its ‘democratic’ mask – completely coming out of its fascist closet. For more information on the real dangers Fracking poses to your community, click here. It’s a simple concept: when a government acts as a battering ram for transnational corporations – at the expense of its own citizens – then you have naked fascism…
Ministers will intervene on planning applications for controversial fracking operations if local authorities fail to act quickly enough, the government announced on Thursday, in a bid to fast-track fracking.
Industry and the government have been frustrated at the slow rate of progress on exploratory fracking for shale gas and oil in the UK, which has been bogged down in the planning process.Ministers have been told that applications to drill and frack in Lancashire could be delayed by 16 months in an appeals process after they were rejected by Lancashire county council.
Under the new planning guidance issued today, councils will be strongly encouraged to meet the existing deadline of 16 weeks to approve or reject fracking applications. Greg Clark, the secretary of state for communities, will now systematically be able to ‘call in’ applications and decide himself.
The Lancashire applications by energy company Cuadrilla, to drill and frack eight wells, were first submitted in May 2014, but Lancashire county council’s development control committee repeatedly delayed to consider more evidence. The committee finally rejected the bids in June, on the grounds of unacceptable visual impact and noise.
The new guidance will affect shale applications at an early stage in Yorkshire and the Lancashire case, as shale appeals and call-ins will now be prioritised by the Planning Inspectorate.
Officials said the changes did not affect other planning hurdles that shale gas companies had to go through, such as applying for environment permits.
Clark said: “People’s safety and the environment will remain paramount and communities will always be involved in planning applications but no-one benefits from uncertainty caused by delays in planning decisions. By fast-tracking any appropriate applications, today’s changes will tackle potential hold-ups in the system.”
Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services at Lancashire county council, and a Labour councillor on the committee, said that councils already had to make planning decisions within 16 weeks. The reason the Cuadrilla case had “dragged on” so long, he said, was the deadlines had been extended to get more information.
“I can see what the direction of travel is: it’s to remove local determinism, and the right of local people to have a say,” he said of the new guidance…