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UK Government to have final say on Lancashire fracking projects

30 November 2015

The UK Government has said it will intervene in the confrontation over proposals for two fracking projects in Lancashire. On November 26, Lancashire County Council was informed by the Department for Communities and Local Government that Secretary of State Greg Clark will use the "recovery" process that gives him the power to make the final decision on a planning application following an appeal.

Test well - Image: Cuadrilla Resources
Test well - Image: Cuadrilla Resources

Shale oil and gas developer Cuadrilla Resources is currently appealing against two decisions by Lancashire County Council, after councillors this summer voted to reject the company's planning applications for wells at Roseacre Wood and Little Plumpton.

The appeal was due to be heard by a planning inspector at a public inquiry next February, but the Government has decided Clark will make the decision because the proposals are "of more than local significance". A decision is now expected next year after official recommendations are filed with the Secretary of State by the planning inspectorate.

The UK Government says that fracking projects can help bolster the UK's energy security and provide a boost to the economy while curbing carbon emissions by replacing coal power with gas. But existing projects have been opposed by local councils in Lancashire and Sussex, so this intervention is designed to help developers override local opposition.

The Secretary of State's decision to call in the planning application is in contrast to his department’s stance on onshore wind farms, where local people have been given the final say on developments in their areas.

Shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy said: "It's hypocritical for ministers to support devolution and local democracy for decision-making over wind farms, only to then trample over the views of local communities when it comes to fracking.”

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