Barbara called for a debate in Parliament on the day new planning guidance for the shale gas industry should have been published.
However, the Conservative-led Government failed to publish the guidance on July 18th, while Parliament was sitting. Now it seems clear that the new “streamlined” guidance has removed powers from local authorities. Planning authorities like Salford City Council will no longer have to consider matters such as seismic activity, flaring and venting as well as the potential impact on ground water supplies before they consider whether to grant planning permission for new shale gas wells.
Speaking in the debate in Parliament, before the guidance was published, Barbara told the Energy Minister that the Government’s proposed changes to the planning and permit system for shale gas had served to make people more anxious. She now feels that the new planning guidance removes important controls that should be part of the City Council’s process when considering any application for fracking.
“There are serious concerns about the impact of fracking on communities, and these will not be helped by removing controls from the planning process used by Salford Council as the Minerals Authority.
“Reports from the International Energy Agency tell us that producing unconventional gas is an intensive industrial process, generally imposing a larger environmental footprint than conventional gas development. The scale of development can have major implications for local communities like Barton Moss.
"Potential developers have to show that they can address serious hazards and I am very concerned that some of the planning controls have been removed by the Government. The bodies responsible for regulating the shale gas industry have no experience yet and they may not have the resources necessary to regulate and monitor fracking sites in the way that our communities need them to do.”