LONDON, 18 July – The UK government has opened a public consultation on fracking today. The consultation aims to collect feedback on a controversial piece of legislation aimed at changing local planning rules. If approved, fracking companies could be allowed to drill without having to submit local planning applications, threatening communities and weakening UK’s climate record in the process.
The consultation is expected to be open for the next 12 weeks. Environmental groups call on citizens to massively engage in the process and reject the proposed legislation.
The planning proposal effectively bypasses local councils, classifying exploratory shale drilling as “permitted development”, a planning category originally designed for sheds, fences and other minor home improvements.
Sebastian Kelly, 350.org UK Fracking Outreach Organiser, said:
“The government’s proposal to allow free rein to fracking in the British countryside flies in the face of local democracy and threatens to slash community involvement in decision-making. ‘Permitted Development’ was designed for garden sheds and fences, not fracking. The idea that it would be used to force through an industry with such wide-reaching implications is simply unacceptable.”
Currently, over 17 thousand square kilometres of England are covered by oil and gas exploration licences, and if all of the industry’s plans were to approved, it could mean drilling over 6000 wells in just 15 years – more than one every day.
Barbara Richardson, Lancashire resident and member of Roseacre Awareness Group, said:
“The government and industry have already lost the argument on fracking. It’s unpopular, risky, and increasingly financially unviable. Fracking has already been stopped in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and council after council have stood against development in their areas. These planning proposals are a desperate last ditch attempt to kickstart the industry in the UK – and it’s communities like mine who will pay the price.”
Fracking risks contaminating groundwater and there are serious concerns about risks to public health – with leading medical experts stating that “the arguments against fracking on public health grounds are overwhelming.” It was banned from New York state in 2014 following a two year study into health impacts.
Sebastian Kelly, 350.org UK Fracking Outreach Organiser, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ellen Gibson, 350.org UK Divestment Network Coordinator, email@example.com