Government Fracking Proposals Are An Attack On Democracy

30 July 2018

The Government is currently trying to push two new pieces of legislation through Parliament, both relating to fracking.

Most of you will be aware of the application by INEOS to test drill for shale gas at Bramleymoor Lane (Marsh Lane), culminating in the Public Inquiry in June. Local groups Eckington Against Fracking (EAF) and Coal Aston & Dronfield Against Fracking (CADAF), as well as individual residents, had the opportunity to submit written objections and to speak up against this application at the Inquiry, through the current Planning procedures.

But the Government now wants to “fast-track” fracking by introducing legislation to by-pass these procedures.

Firstly, they want to include fracking in the “Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects” (NSIP) scheme: this would mean that any plans for fracking would go directly to the Government and not to Local Authorities, thus undermining and reducing the ability of local communities, residents and businesses to raise their objections. Even more worrying is that this move would also permit the compulsory purchase of land to allow for fracking.

Secondly, the Government want to treat the exploratory phase (where fracking companies carry out test drilling) as “Permitted Development”, meaning that no Planning Permission would be needed: it would be as easy as putting up a garden shed! This is the exploratory phase that INEOS were applying for at Bramleymoor Lane: if this proposed new legislation had been in place last year, no-one would have been consulted, there would have been no Planning process and no Public Inquiry. No-one would have had any rights to object and INEOS would have been able to just start drilling without seeking any permission other than from the land owner. Let’s just get this in perspective: exploratory drilling requires a drillrig of up to 60m in height. That’s equivalent to a 20-storey block of flats. And the Government wants to rule that it’s no more significant than a shed in your back garden.

The effect of all this is that local people, local communities would lose their voice; their opinions and opposition simply would have no place in the matter. But it is even more serious than that: it is a direct attack on democracy, removing people’s democratic rights to have a say; to have a voice in what happens in and around their local community. North East Derbyshire could be forced into accepting widespread industrialisation through fracking with dire effects on the environment, on the landscape and potentially on the health and well-being of everyone living here, and that of livestock and wildlife.

What can we do about this?

The Government is currently running a Consultation which closes on 25 October 2018 seeking views about this and Councils are being encouraged to participate. CADAF are urging all residents of Coal Aston and Dronfield to write to their local Councillors asking them to take part in this Consultation by opposing these plans and the attack on democracy they imply. You can find your local Councillors here:
Dronfield Town Council (includes Coal Aston)
North East Derbyshire District Council (click on “My Councillor” and enter your Postcode)
Derbyshire County Council (click to see map)

You can write your own letter in your own words, or you can get help from CPRE (the Campaign to Protect Rural England) by filling in the form here and they’ll do it for you.

You can also take part directly in the Consultations themselves. Here are the websites telling you how to do this:
Inclusion of Fracking in Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects
Inclusion of Exploratory Drilling as “Permitted Development”

See also our blog article “Petition the PM”.

What should I write?Suggestions will appear on this page shortly

There is also a Petition to Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy which you can sign by clicking on this link.

If you value your freedom of speech, if you value having your right to have your voice heard, if you value your democracy please, please, please do at least one and (if you have time) preferably all of the above.

FURTHER READING

  • Alex Dale serves as a Councillor on all 3 of our local Councils: Dronfield Town Council, North East Derbyshire District Council and Derbyshire County Council. He sits on numerous Council committees. He has published an excellent statement in the Yorkshire Post about these proposals: you can read it here.
  • The Mirror’s online news carried this article.
  • FrackFree Ryedale have published a brilliant “Your Questions Answered” leaflet which you can read online here.

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