‘Fracking site’ set up in Huddersfield Town Centre

Huddersfield residents call on Government to drop fracking proposals

Fracking site Huddersfield

Huddersfield Friends of the Earth joined a national week of action, calling on the Government to scrap their plans to fast-track fracking under new planning proposals.

Permitted developmentLocal residents joined campaigners in St George’s Square in Huddersfield as part of a national week of action challenging recent government fracking proposals [1]. The campaigners set up a mock fracking site in St George’s Square with work site fencing, drilling equipment and fracking operatives in hard hats and high vis clothing.  The action aimed to drive home the message that, under the new proposals, fracking companies would be able to drill at will – with local communities and councils unable to refuse planning permission for fracking companies looking to drill in their area.

The government is consulting on proposals to classify exploratory shale drilling as “permitted development”, a planning category originally designed for sheds and minor home improvements. If changes went ahead, fracking companies could start drilling across England without any local planning applications, threatening community involvement in decision-making.

Ian Morris from Huddersfield Friends of the Earth said:

We’re here today to stand against the government’s outrageous plans. If they go ahead, whole swathes of England could be opened up to fracking development.

Fracking is unpopular, and risky – these planning proposals are a last ditch attempt to kickstart the industry, and communities like ours will pay the price. We don’t need fracking, here or anywhere.”

The proposals have widespread cross-party opposition, including around 20 Conservative MPs who are prepared to “destroy the government’s majority” if ministers seek to push the proposal through parliament [2]. Hundreds of councillors have signed an open letter opposing proposals [3].

Nell Griffiths, Councillor for the Colne Valley ward on Kirklees Council, is one of the signatories and commented:

The government’s proposals fly in the face of local democracy, and threaten to slash community involvement in decision-making about fracking.

Local councils are the ones who have to deal with the consequences of fracking – they are best placed to make informed decisions on planning. We’re calling on the government to listen to communities like ours, and drop these proposals.”

Fracking site Huddersfield 2

Fracking has been banned or put on hold in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Currently, over 17 thousand square kilometres of England are covered by oil and gas exploration licences, and if we were to see a fully-fledged fracking industry, it could mean drilling over 6000 wells in just 15 years – more than one every day [4].

NOTES:

1.More on the Week of Action: http://www.letcommunitiesdecide.org

2. See coverage in the Financial Times:

3. The full list of signatories will be published soon, see the text here:

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