Local democracy and fracking

Many constituents have contacted me about fracking and local democracy.

I have made it clear that I will oppose any applications for fracking in my constituency.

A consultation has recently closed on this and I urged constituents who contacted me to contribute with their concerns.

It was launched to consider whether the early stages of shale exploration should be treated as permitted development, and in particular the circumstances where this might be appropriate. This would allow early exploratory work to proceed without requiring planning applications, although planning applications would still be required for fracking.

Other proposed measures included strengthening community engagement by consulting on the potential to make pre-application consultations a statutory requirement, and launching a new £1.6 million shale support fund over the next two years to build capacity in local authorities dealing with shale applications.

To simplify the complex UK regulatory regime for shale gas, a new Shale Environmental Regulator would also be set up, to act as a single coherent face for the public, mineral planning authorities, and industry.

The outcome of the consultation is now awaited.