A letter leaked to Friends of the Earth reveals that the Government plans to have industrial-scale shale gas fracking production “within 10 years” and is considering making this happen by taking the right to decide on future shale gas production away from local councils like North Yorkshire County Council.
The letter lays out plans from the Energy secretary, Amber Rudd, the Local Government secretary, Greg Clark, and the Environment secretary, Liz Truss, to Chancellor George Osborne.
The three Cabinet ministers tell George Osborne that they want to take the right to decide on fracking wells away from local councils, and spells out the Government’s plans to “bring commercial shale production within the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Planning regime”. This would mean decisions eventually taken by the Local Government secretary, rather than by local councils.
The ministers also wrote:
“One of our top priorities will be to examine what work is required to ensure that the safeguarding provisions in the [Infrastructure] Act do not inadvertently create fresh barriers to exploration and to minimise the delays that the requirements in the act have introduced.”
The Infrastructure Act set out regulations preventing surface development within Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (e.g. Howardian Hills) and National Parks (such as the North Yorks Moors).