Thursday, 13 August 2015

Government tantrum


The Government announcement today that decisions on fracking can be taken out of Local Council hands and made by Central Government is a slap in the face not only of those opposing fracking but of anyone believing in democratic process. Ministers said the planning application dragged on and needed to be speeded up; for the benefit of who? Certainly NOT for communities looking for assurance that all aspects are considered and our health and safety are paramount.

This situation didn’t ‘drag on’ as today’s release stated, it took as long as required for a decision to be made. High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing is a new industry and there is a great deal to consider; it cannot be rushed through, just to satisfy ministers and industry.



This decision makes a mockery of government claims about localism and empowering communities. Our Councillors acted according to the evidence presented and the time it took to make the decision was largely a factor of obtaining accurate and thorough information from the fracking company.  The statement today is an insult to the hard work the Councillors have put in and obnoxiously ignores the wishes of the local community.


How many objection letters and how much evidence does it take to say no to this industry? Will this just go on until the industry and government get their way; regardless of local considerations? The Secretary of State for COMMUNITIES is to be permitted to make the decision on fracking applications ALONE; Greg Clark’s title smacks in the face of his powers.


Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has said since getting the job that she WILL ‘deliver shale’ and our Prime Minister has said he is ‘going all out for shale’; the missing voices here are our Councillors and the communities they represent. This has been such a battle every step of the way and it shouldn’t have been. Why is this people vs. Government? What on earth does ‘democracy’ mean in David Cameron’s mind?
By contrast, in June the government gave greater powers to communities to object to wind farms. We’re going backwards to dictatorial rule and embedding ourselves in a fossilised past as other countries surge forward with the jobs, lowered costs and reduced risks of renewable energy.

*NOTE:
Here are a few quotes from David Cameron's speech to local government leaders in 2011, which stands in contrast to today's announcement:
......

"I believe that our agenda of localism is one the most exciting things we are doing in government...
When we see a problem, we don’t ask what central government can do, we ask what can local people do, what can councils do...
Yes, we’re giving you [councils] this power. And yes, we’re doing that because we trust you."
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