CONTROVERSIAL new proposals to fast-track planning applications to frack for shale gas were announced by the government last night.
Cabinet ministers Amber Rudd and Greg Clark revealed a new process to stop local councils delaying proposals for the process.
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David Penny of ‘Keep East Lancashire Frack Free’ said their plans were ‘alarming’.
He said it made it near-certain drilling firm Cuadrilla would seek licences to frack along the M65 corridor from north of Blackburn through Burnley to Colne and down the Rossendale Valley.
The government measures include identifying councils that repeatedly fail to determine oil and gas applications within the 16 week statutory timeframe, with subsequent applications potentially ‘called in’ and decided by the Communities Secretary Mr Clark.
Energy Secretary Mrs Rudd said: “We are backing the safe development of shale gas because it’s good for jobs giving hardworking people and their families more financial security, good for our energy security and part of our plan to decarbonise the economy.
“To ensure we get this industry up and running we can’t have a planning system that sees applications dragged out for months.”
Mr Clark said: “By fast tracking any appropriate applications today’s changes will tackle potential hold ups in the system.”
Ministers will be able to call in any application for fracking and appeals against the refusal of applications will be prioritised by the Planning Inspectorate.
Last night’s announcement follows Lancashire County Council refusing two applications from Cuadrilla to frack between Blackpool and Preston. It is appealing the decisions.
Mr Penny said: “This is alarming and dangerous.
“It confirms the government is so determined on fracking it will by-pass local democracy and public opinion.
“This makes it virtually certain Cuadrilla will seek to frack in East Lancashire in the current round of licence applications.”