Blackpool Council to fight bid to reduce fracking drill rig scrutiny

Blackpool Council has voted unanimously to challenge proposed changes to planning laws which would make setting up a fracking drill rig 'as easy as building a conservatory.'

Monday, 24th September 2018, 12:43 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th September 2018, 2:52 am
The drilling rig at Preston New Road shale gas exploration site.

The Government is consulting over changes which bring decisions over fracking into the same permitted development category as small scale extensions.

It means developers would not need planning permission for an exploratory drill although they would need permission if they did want to frack.

If it goes ahead the new legislation will also class fracking as ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects’ (NSIP) thus removing any council control and community involvement in the decision-making process.

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The drilling rig at Preston New Road shale gas exploration site.

Labour’s Coun Martin Mitchell put forward a notice of motion calling on Blackpool Council to respond to the government consultation by setting out its opposition to the proposals.

He said: “This would be putting fracking into the same category as house extensions and conservatories as permitted development.

“It is attempting to remove all local control.”

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The motion put forward by Coun Mitchell said moving decisions about fracking to a national level would “have huge implications for local communities” and “would contradict the principles of localism.”

It added that permitted development was “an inappropriate category for drilling” and local authorites “are best placed to continue to make decisions throughout the planning process”.

Conservative group leader Coun Tony Williams said: “We are a unitary authority and we should handle our own affairs.”