The leader of Rotherham Council, Chris Read, has attacked government proposals to allow fracking companies to bypass the local planning system.
Along with over 400 Labour politicians from across the country, Cllr Read has signed an open letter calling on the government to scrap plans to treat exploratory drilling by fracking companies as ‘Permitted Development’. If implemented, these proposals would allow fracking companies to begin drilling without any planning permission from local authorities.
The letter argues that communities should retain the right to make decisions on fracking through the local planning system. It calls the government’s proposals a ‘misuse of the planning system’ and points out that ‘Permitted Development was originally intended to be used to speed up planning decisions on small developments – like garden sheds or erecting a fence – not drilling for shale gas.’
Rotherham Council’s Planning Committee has also used a government consultation to formally oppose the change. While the Council has already rejected fracking applications in Harthill and Woodsetts, the Hartill decision was later overturned by central government inspectors.
Cllr Read has said:
“Permitted Development is designed for minor home improvements, not major industry. Government Ministers need to drop these proposals and allow local communities to decide whether fracking is right for their areas.”
The full text of the open letter is available online.