MP brands Government plans to speed fracking planning as 'bonkers'

Fylde MP Mark Menzies
Fylde MP Mark Menzies

Government proposals to speed up planning  process to help fracking, were described as “bonkers” by Fylde MP Mark Menzies.

He was speaking in a debate on fracking and planning called by fellow Conservative MP Lee Rowley from Derby North East who blasted the proposals for taking people out of the planning process as local knowledge was vital in making decisions.

Meanwhile outside, around 100 women from Lancashire staged a suffragette style protest to highlight their view that the Government was subverting democracy with its fast track plans and by allowing fracking to go ahead at Preston New Road despite plans being rejected by all local councils.

Mr Menzies said: “I’ve had five sites in my constituency, one currently being developed and the second in front of the planning inspectorate.

“Would my Honorable Friend agree that were we to go down the permitted development route the concerns raised by residents around traffic planning at Roseacre Wood which would probably kill that site as suitable site, that would not be considered?

“The proposals that the Government have laid before us are, quite frankly, bonkers.”

Fellow Conservative MP Lee Rowley said Mr Menzies had “a way with words and I think they sum up the real concerns both within this house and without about the proposals.”

Claire Perry, minister of energy and clean growth spoke in support of the plans saying regulation would be the tightest in the world, 70 per cent of homes used gas and the current drawn-out planning situation was not in anyone’s interest.

She said: “I pity any councillor that gets an application on their desk because they will shortly have a travelling circus of protesters most of whom do not hail from the areas where those sites are located.” She said protests were an entirely unacceptable way to express democracy.

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden was in the debate and criticised the minister afterwards for being arrogant and ignoring the principle of local democracy.

He said: “She ignored concerns of her own Tory MP for NE Derbyshire who called the debate and sneered about protesters.

“The Government is under sever pressure over this. It is not just the opposition criticising, it is its own back benchers”

Meanwhile the protests against fracking on the Fylde went on. Police set up a contraflow on the A583 at Cuadrilla's Preston New Road fracking site on Tuesday after a protester climbed on a tanker.