In last week’s Letters to the Editor, Glenn Marshall drew attention to the many and considerable health and environmental concerns about fracking for gas.
These concerns have been felt by people all around the world to the extent that fracking has been suspended or banned in countries including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Scotland and Wales.
Thanks to public resistance there has been no fracking in Britain since 2011 when the first test fracking in the country was attempted at Preese Hall near Blackpool. Things did not go well at the well. The testing was suspended after two minor earthquakes hit the area and a study found that it was highly probable that the test drilling had triggered the tremors.
As you would expect, before firms can begin any stage of fracking they have to apply for and be granted planning permission by the relevant local planning authority. Local people have the right to be fully consulted and their views must be taken into account.
Since 2011, Lancashire County Council has turned down planning permission for fracking at two further sites. However, the energy firm in question appealed against this and the decision whether to grant permission is now in the hands of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Why? Apparently an existing power can be used by the government to override elected local councils in the case of decisions that are deemed to be of “major importance having more than local significance”.
So it would seem that there is nothing to stop this happening with all future planning applications for fracking. This leaves us with at least two questions:
1) Why bother with the democratic planning application process at all? and
2) Is this what Theresa May means by putting people “back in control of their lives”?