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DERBYSHIRE: County council urged to object to Government fracking plans

County Councillor Anne Western at an anti-fracking demonstration
County Councillor Anne Western at an anti-fracking demonstration

A move from Government to force councils to pave the way for fracking has been criticised by Derbyshire’s Labour group leader.

Councillor Anne Western has put forward a motion urging Derbyshire County Council to object to the Government’s plan, saying there is “no justification” for the changes.

Plans for fracking off Bramleymoor Lane at Marsh Lane have proved deeply divisive

Plans for fracking off Bramleymoor Lane at Marsh Lane have proved deeply divisive

The Government is proposing to amend planning rules so authorities have to recognise the benefits of onshore oil and gas for securing energy supplies. It also wants planning authorities to put in place policies to facilitate exploration and extraction – including fracking for shale.

Fracking is the controversial process of injecting water and chemicals at high pressure deep underground to create tiny cracks so gas trapped in shale rocks can flow up a well to the surface and be collected.

The Government’s planning changes are currently under consultation and the motion filed by the county council’s opposition Labour group is urging the authority to object.

The Labour motion says: “This council welcomes the government’s commitment to reducing the amount of plastic in the environment.

“The council notes the recent government assurances about the long-term security of UK gas supplies from current sources.

“The council can therefore see no justification for the proposed change to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that would give preferential status to unconventional hydrocarbons by requiring minerals planning authorities to ‘put in place policies to facilitate their exploration and extraction’.

“The council will object to this proposed change in its response to NPPF consultation and convey this objection to the relevant government ministers.”

The motion was considered at the authority’s full council meeting yesterday.

The county council is the planning authority for quarrying and mining for minerals, including shale gas, limestone, sand and gravel.

Earlier this year, councillors on its planning committee voted nine to one to reject plans for a test drilling site to explore the potential for fracking in a field off Bramleymoor Lane near the village of Marsh Lane.

A public inquiry, which could last up to eight days, will be held on June 19 at the Chesterfield Assembly Rooms to debate the plans after the applicant, chemical and oil manufacturing giant INEOS, filed an appeal with the Government.

As part of INEOS’ application, a 60-metre tall drill would be constructed on the land, six miles north of Chesterfield.

Anyone wishing to speak at the INEOS public inquiry should be present at the start on the first day to make this known, or arrange for a representative to do so on their behalf.

Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service