Fracking opponents have reacted with anger after ministers unveiled measures to help projects through the planning system in England, which campaigners said would make drilling a shale well as easy as building a conservatory.
Date: 17 May 2018 (Last modified on Fri 18 May 2018 11.53)
by Adam Vaughan, The Guardian
Shale gas explorers will be able to drill test sites in England without applying for planning permission and fracking sites could be classed as nationally significant infrastructure, meaning approval would come at a national rather than local level.
Planning authorities will also be given £1.6m to speed up fracking applications over the next two years and a new shale environmental regulator will be created this summer, under government proposals published on Thursday.
Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Green party, said the plans were shocking. “Britain’s fracking experiment was on life support and now the government is trying its best to shock it back into life.”
Rebecca Long Bailey MP, shadow business secretary, said: “Fracking should be banned, not promoted.”
Greenpeace said the government had turned a deaf ear to communities and councils, and would make “exploratory drilling as easy as building a garden wall or conservatory”.
The progress of fracking in the UK has been glacial, with not a single well fracked since a ban was lifted in 2013.
Companies including Ineos, Cuadrilla and Third Energy have been bogged down in planning battles with local authorities. In the first three months of the year, seven of eight shale drilling plans were rejected by councils.
However, under plans outlined by the business secretary, Greg Clark, the drilling of shale wells in England will be considered permitted development, meaning no planning application is required.
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38 Degrees Petition (written by CPRE)
The government’s trying to sneak this through quietly. But if it happens, it could set a dangerous precedent for our democracy. Not to mention the devastation it could cause to our countryside, from the Yorkshire Moors to Sherwood Forest.
This is the biggest threat to our countryside and democracy we’ve seen in a while.
Please drop measures to:
● Treat exploratory drilling as permitted development.
● Include fracking in the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects Regime.
Sign the Petition: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/don-t-fast-track-fracking
Background: The 2015 Infrastructure Bill, which provided new strategic powers in terms of development and planning law for government to make provision for infrastructure development with specific regard to increasing provision for greater housing development across the UK, also included specific safeguards around hydraulic fracturing. It provided automatic right of access given to “deep level” land (300m or lower) for the purposes of exploiting petroleum or deep geothermal energy, i.e. for general petrol extraction and specifically unconventional extraction or hydraulic fracturing / fracking. This put into legislative statute the right of developers involved in fracking to override the interests of surface landowners who are now no longer able to unduly object to or frustrate initiatives on the basis of works amounting to trespass. In addition, “there is the right to leave the deep level land in a different condition than before the right was exercised. This includes by leaving any substance or infrastructure in the land. Liability for any loss or damage attributable to the exercise of these rights by another person is expressly removed from resting with the landowner.” (Source: https://www.walkermorris.co.uk/publications/infrastructure-act-2015-fracking-focus/ ).
 The Guardian: Fast-track fracking plan by the government prompts criticism:
The Times: Backlash as Ineos puts fracking on fast track with plans to bypass local councils:
The Independent: Government announces plan to accelerate fracking developments by fast-tracking private companies’ planning applications:
UK Parliament: Written statement on Energy Policy made by Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which lays out the Government’s plans:
 This has made it into a few news articles, like the ones above, but such a massive change to our local councils’ powers should have gone much further than that.
 Greenpeace: 4 reasons why we could all be fracked by fracking:
The Independent: Fracking could cause earthquakes across huge swathes of UK, warns former Downing Street adviser and seismologist:
 Guardian: How fracking can contribute to climate change:
 38 Degrees: “Fracking cannot and will not take place in Scotland”:
 The Guardian: UK fracking backlash: seven of eight plans rejected in 2018:
The Telegraph: Villages across the UK take up the fight against fracking:
Friends of the Earth: Fracking in Sherwood Forest – we’re winning but it’s not over yet:
38 Degrees: Protect Sherwood Forest: