Don’t fast-track fracking. Let Communities Decide

Time is running short to engage with two important consultations, one on Permitted Development and one on Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP). The deadline for both is 11.45 p.m. on October 25th.

A campaigner has written a “Guide to Contacting MP’s and Councillors about Changes to Shale Gas Planning Applications” which we reduce below.

What’s this all about?

It’s about your local council and you losing any say in what goes on in your backyard. Permitted Development is a planning term usually applied to minor home improvements, a conservatory, a dormer window, a garden shed, which are small enough not to need planning permission – just go ahead and do it.

The Government now wants to include drilling rigs for shale gas exploration in this category!(1) They are BIG, INDUSTRIAL sites and the exploration stage can continue for 8 months or longer!
And what if the exploration stage is successful? The site may then qualify as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) and can proceed to full production without further consultation with local authorities or communities.

There are two consultations running until the 25th October, and we have time to object.(2)

Why are the Government doing this?
The Government is determined to frack this country.  Communities are passionate they don’t want it.  They have objected and successfully resisted. The Government’s plans have stalled and this move aims to sweep aside all local opposition.

How does it affect us in the Weald/South East? (3)
Now, this gets a bit complicated. If you wish, skip this bit and just emphasise your objection to loss of democracy below. Not deterred, OK here goes:

  • In the Weald/South East region, drilling has involved acid fracking and matrix acidisation.  The Government does not define acid stimulation/acidisation as fracking, but the technique could pose high risks to the environment and communities as it may use greater overall volumes of chemicals than hydraulic fracturing and is not regulated effectively.
  • It is unclear in the Written Statement whether ‘non-hydraulic fracturing’ could also apply to applications to acidise shale or other tight oil wells.  If it does, then oil exploration in our area would be classed as ‘permitted development’. We need clarification on this from the ministers concerned.
  • Should the proposal be adopted, it could be only a matter of time before it is expanded to include tight oil exploration and production.

Wow… well done… have a cuppa!….and a biscuit!

Loss of democracy...    (opportunity for a rant here!)

  • The objective of the proposal is to speed up the planning process for exploratory drilling by sidelining local authorities and communities.
  • This is a direct assault on local democracy, the right for individuals/tax-payers/local residents to have a say, through democratically elected officials and established channels, on what happens in their locality
  • I want the councillor I elected to be able to represent me.
  • I want my views to be heard.
  • Localism matters.  People should be heard.
  • Local councils and the Mineral Planning Authority know the region and are best placed to make decisions concerning its development.
  • Un-elected planning inspectors instead of local authorities will have the power of approval, thus making a mockery of local democracy.
  • Mention that the following Conservative MP’s (amongst others) have spoken out against the proposals.(4)
    Local MP Nick Herbert MP (Arundel & South Downs) – ‘I don’t think a major process as disruptive as drilling can be classed as permitted development which doesn’t need planning permission, akin to putting up a garden shed’.
    Local MP Bob Seely MP (IOW) – ‘I fear they would set a precedent for other developments.’
  • Mention that the Isle of Wight council voted to reject the proposal

Then ask what you want your MP/Councillor to do

  • Ask them to add their name to the Open Letter to the ministers below by completing the online form https://gofossilfree.org/uk/let-communities-decide-letter/
  • Ask them, as your elected representative, to request that the Government withdraw plans to treat non-hydraulic fracturing shale gas exploration as ‘permitted development’ and withdraw proposals to include applications for shale gas production within the NSIP regime.
  • Ask your MP to write to key Ministers to ensure they hear your concerns (see below)

And if you can make the time, a face to face meeting with your MP or councillor is much more effective. Call them to ask if they will meet you to discuss your concerns. Take someone with you for support if you wish. Contact us for advice if needed.

This is who they should write to in government:-
The individual Ministers involved in the proposal, any/all of:

 

Ta…rahh!!    Done!

And, in case you’re not sure –

Who is my MP?
Go to ‘They Work for You’ website, type in your postcode and …voila!
www.theyworkforyou.com

Who is my Councillor?
Go to the website of your local Council.

Thank You !

If you’ve read this far and acted on these notes, we are very grateful. Please see if you can get someone else to do a letter or ask to meet their councillor or MP too.

If you have any queries or if you get any positive responses please send these on to us.

References (add these links to your email/letter)
1.        www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2018-05-17/HCWS690
2.        https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/726916/Consultation_document_-_shale_gas_permitted_development.pdf
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/727044/NSIP_Consultation_Document_Final.pdf
3.        www.wealdactiongroup.org.uk/download-info/
4.        https://drillordrop.com/2018/09/20/whos-saying-what-on-government-plans-to-fast-track-fracking/

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