by GK Strategy 13th August, 2015
3 min read

Government moves to bypass local concern over fracking

The government’s dash for a shale gas revolution has continued today, with Ministers at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) announcing that local councils will have only a short window to decide on planning applications for oil and gas sites.

The move follows Lancashire County Council’s recent decision to block Cuadrilla from extracting gas at Little Plumpton on the Fylde coast – a decision we picked up when it was announced as an indication of the conflict between local and central government on this issue.

Now the government says councils will only have a narrow 16 week window to decide on what are often highly controversial proposals. The two high profile attempts by Cuadrilla to date – in Lancashire and West Sussex – have been met with vehement opposition from residents.

The Communities Secretary, Greg Clark, has previously been a strong advocate of localism and devolution, but will now have slightly contradictory powers to call in, review and even take over planning decisions from councils. Councils are now on notice that if they don’t make speedy decisions – potentially allowing less time for the NIMBY campaigns to gear up – they might lose the chance to make a decision at all.

Whatever happens to the planning process, the lesson for the shale gas industry remains the same: get ahead of the game, make sure your planning application is as strong as possible, and engage with decision makers at every level to ensure that the benefits of your projects are well known.

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