The government’s decision to fast-track fracking applications could leave local residents with “virtually no say” on shale gas exploration in their area.
That’s according to Daisy Sands, Greenpeace Head of Energy. She said: “Local residents could end up with virtually no say over whether their homes, communities and national parks are fracked or not.
The decision was made in a bid to kick-start the shale gas revolution in the UK.
Ms Sands added people who live in the countryside and care about climate change “will not stand for a government which is riding roughshod over democracy to industrialise our most beautiful landscapes and damage the climate”.
Naomi Luhde-Thompson, Friends of the Earth Planning Advisor, said local authorities have been following the rules and these changes are being made because “the government doesn’t agree with the democratic decisions councils have been making”.
She added: “Bulldozing fracking applications through the planning system, against the wishes of local people and councils, will simply fan the flames of mistrust and opposition.”
However UKOOG, the representative body for the UK’s onshore oil and gas industry, welcomed the announcement.
CEO Ken Cronin said the planning process is “unwieldy” and the time taken for planning decisions “has soared from three months to more than a year”.
He added this causes “delay and cost” and is “not in the interests of local people, the industry or indeed the British people”.
He went on: “It is right the government is acting to ensure local people can have their say and the highest standards of safety and environmental protection are met but also ensuring that the planning process itself is fit for purpose.”
Paul Raynes, Director of Policy at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, added: “Today’s announcement respects democracy and community engagement and is also good for energy security, good for growth and good for the UK.”