York has united to condemn so-called fast-track fracking.
The Government invited local authorities to have their say on controversial plans which would see shale gas exploration treated as permitted development – meaning applications could bypass the local planning system.
But councillors from across the political spectrum joined to say a resounding ‘no’ to this idea.
At a meeting on Monday (October 22) Lib Dem deputy leader of City of York Council Andrew Waller said that decision “has such an importance to the future of the city”.
Avoid local scrutiny
If fast-track fracking went ahead, it would make applying for fracking rights as easy as putting up a garden shed or conservatory said the Green Party’s Lars Kramm.
“The council should stress that permitted development was clearly intended for small-scale domestic developments with a low level of environmental impact,” he said.
“Permitted development is not for new industrial development. Gas drilling is an industry, not a garden shed.”
He said the plans were an attempt to “avoid local scrutiny” and added it is “urgent that we move away from fossil fuels, not encourage and promote their extraction.”
Cllr Danny Myers (Labour, Clifton), supported the council’s response and said: “This report is very welcome. We strongly oppose granting planning permission for fracking through permitted development rights.”
York Conservative group also responded to the Government’s consultation on fracking, saying the proposals are “wholly inappropriate” and have the potential to “irreparably damage residents’ confidence in the fairness of our planning system”.
Tory councillor Paul Doughty said:
We believe that applying permitted development rights to large-scale processes such as fracking is just wrong.
Whatever the potential benefits to the UK economy from shale gas extraction, which we acknowledge could be considerable, allowing developers to circumvent the usual planning process is not the way to go about it.