In a letter published today, local Greens are urging government ministers to halt their plans to remove decision-making powers from local authorities on new fracking sites.
The proposals, leaked by the government in January, would see approval for fracking schemes made by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate rather than local authorities. The move would prevent local communities from having any say as to whether fracking schemes go ahead in their local area.
The proposals are part of a government move to create a shale gas industry within a decade, despite widespread public opposition and protest to fracking schemes. The government is expected to release its fracking strategy in the summer.
In Sussex, there have been extensive campaigns against fracking in Balcombe, Fernhurst and Wisborough Green, with planning applications in the latter two areas being rejected as a result. The plans being considered by ministers would allow government inspectors to overrule these decisions and impose fracking on local communities.
Convenor of the Green Group of councillors at Brighton & Hove City Council, Phelim Mac Cafferty, said:
“These proposals from the government are a blatant attack on democracy that removes the rights of councils to protect their local environment by opposing fracking. This is yet another naked power-grab by central government.
“In this week’s budget we heard more of the Government’s endless rhetoric about devolving power to local communities to make local decisions. Yet time and again their actions run counter to the rhetoric, as local authorities are stripped of powers and resources to effectively decide what happens in their areas.
“Just last week a report from NASA showed that global temperatures in February smashed previous records by an unprecedented amount . This is a climate emergency, which needs an urgent response to bring about a more sustainable future. These proposals on fracking will take us down the wrong path, forcing us towards more exploitation of fossil fuels when we desperately need to be investing in renewable energies”.
Green MEP Keith Taylor said:
“The scientific consensus on climate change has never been greater and we have been told that the best chance of limiting potentially catastrophic temperature increase is by leaving fossil fuels in the ground.
The UK has enormous renewable energy potential – and we have seen evidence that people across the South East have the passion, willingness and know-how to create clean, people-powered energy in spite of the Government’s onslaught.
Fracking is a distraction from the work that must be done to build a sustainable future based on a clean, democratic energy system.”
Green MP Caroline Lucas said:
“This is a shockingly anti-democratic and environmentally reckless move. Yet again, ministers are doing the dirty work of the shale gas industry and taking away the rights of local people to say no to fracking, whilst making contemptible claims that fracking is somehow compatible with tackling climate change.”