Labour councillors in Rotherham have reacted with disappointment to the news that government inspectors have overturned a local planning decision on fracking in our area. Yesterday, government inspectors allowed an appeal made by fracking firm INEOS to approve their application for exploratory drilling in Harthill. The Planning Board at Rotherham Council had refused this application earlier this year whilst INEOS chose to appeal to the Government to intervene before the decision took place.
Cllr Chris Read, Labour Leader of Rotherham Council, responded to yesterday’s announcement and said:
“It is disappointing that Government inspectors have granted planning permission for exploratory drilling in Harthill, going against the view our democratically elected planing board had taken.
INEOS’ insulting decision to by-pass the Council’s planning process and take its application direct to central government should be of concern to everyone involved. Planning inspectors also allowed them to submit late evidence ahead of the public inquiry into this matter, which was doubly frustrating to me. Residents in the area must be wondering what chance they had when this is how the system works.”
Despite the move by INEOS to appeal to the government, the Planning Board chose to continue with the local planning process and refused their application for exploratory drilling in Harthill. In appealing to the Government to intervene, INEOS were attempting to avoid local democratic decision making. Following the decision to allow their appeal, government inspectors have now overturned this local planning decision taken here in Rotherham. This situation should stand as a warning to other areas and serves as a reminder at how the odds appear to be stacked in favour of fracking, despite what local concerns or decision making is taken.
Labour councillors in Rotherham have also previously committed to not allow fracking on council owned or controlled land here.