Lancashire County Council is calling on the government to make clear how local people will give their consent on any proposed fracking sites in their areas – and to commit to have any decision making on fracking to be taken by local councils.
The government says that fracking will only be allowed where there is local community support, but has not yet set out how that consent will be measured or who will be asked.
At the meeting of the full council on Thursday 12 October, members approved a motion for the council to write to government to ask for clarity. They also called on the government to commit to any decision to permit planning permission for fracking to be made solely by the county council.
County Councillor Aidy Riggott, cabinet member for economic development and growth, said: “When the moratorium on fracking was introduced in 2019 it was welcomed by Lancashire people because local residents had seen years of disruption to their lives, and there was considerable cost to the public purse to manage the protests.
“The new prime minister has lifted the moratorium but has given a clear commitment that fracking will only happen in areas where there is local community support. We welcome this, as it is right that local people should have the final say about whether fracking happens in their area or not. We now need clarity on what local consent means in practice which is why we’re writing to the government to ask them.
“As the body responsible for planning applications for fracking, we need this information so that we can update our policies on how any proposals that come forward will be assessed. We also believe that any planning decisions on fracking should lie with the county council as local representatives are best-placed to understand the needs and wishes of their local communities.”
Any plans to frack in Lancashire following the lifting of the moratorium will be subject to planning approval from Lancashire County Council. The council has a legal duty to prepare a local plan on how these applications will be assessed and have to take into account government guidance and policy.
Because it is the planning body for fracking, the council should remain neutral on whether it is right or wrong that the moratorium has been lifted. This is so that any application that may come in can be considered in an unbiased way and avoids “predetermination”, which can leave decisions open to legal challenge.