Huddersfield action against Government’s fracking-free-for-all
On the final day of Parliament, in the middle of a global heatwave that scientists are linking to climate change  and with hosepipe bans in place across the UK, the Government gave the final go-ahead to controversial water-intensive shale gas exploration (fracking) in Lancashire. This Saturday 28 July campaigners from Huddersfield Friends of the Earth and Fossil Free Huddersfield gathered in Huddersfield town centre to protest against what they call this ‘insane decision to kickstart a new fossil fuel industry while the global climate crisis is becoming more and more evident’. They will also be taking a stand on new Government proposals to change planning rules which would let fracking companies drill without applying for planning permission – making fracking effectively as easy to get approval for as putting up a garden shed. The campaigners will symbolically tape up their mouths to demonstrate the way that the Government’s fracking ‘free-for-all’ is undemocratic and silencing local communities, ignoring widespread public opposition to fracking .
Chayley Collis from Huddersfield Friends of the Earth commented:
“The Government’s decision to approve fracking in Lancashire flies in the face of climate science and local democracy and we need to speak out loudly against it. The Government’s proposals for changing planning rules for fracking seriously undermines local democracy by taking democratic safeguards and planning controls away from local councils and communities.
We must stand in solidarity with the communities across the North and the whole of England that are threatened by the Government’s climate-wrecking fracking policies and ask our councillors and MPs to oppose ‘Permitted Development’ for shale gas exploration.”
The Government proposal to change planning rules would categorise fracking exploration and drilling as ‘Permitted Development’ – a category designed for non-controversial developments such as minor home improvements eg garden sheds. The change would effectively exempt fracking companies from the need for local planning permission.  The campaigners are concerned that if these changes go ahead, fracking companies could start drilling across large swathes of the country without local planning consent, threatening communities and the climate in the process.
As well as the ‘Don’t silence local communities’ photostunt, Huddersfield FoE and Fossil Free Huddersfield held a street stall on Saturday asking passers by in Huddersfield Town Centre to contact their councillors and elected representatives asking them to sign an Open letter opposing ‘Permitted Development’ for shale gas exploration.