Portsmouth councillors support campaign to stop fracking proposals
COUNCILLORS from across the country '“ including Portsmouth City Council '“ have signed an open letter opposing '˜anti-democratic'Â governmentÂ fracking proposals.Â
A staggeringÂ 851 councillors, including membersÂ from all major political parties, are lobbyingÂ for the withdrawal of proposals that exploratory drilling for shale gas should be granted planning permission through a permitted development right.
As it stands itÂ would meanÂ fracking companies would notÂ need to apply for planning permission from the local authority.
Thirteen councillors from Portsmouth, including leader of the council Gerald Vernon-Jackson, have put their names to the letter.
The move has angered those in local authoritiesÂ who believeÂ allowing frackingÂ under permitted development is against regulationsÂ with itÂ originallyÂ designed to facilitate minor structural changes to homes such as extensions and putting up sheds.
The government consultation closed inÂ October '“Â promptingÂ hundreds of councillors to express concerns that the proposals risk industrialising the countryside, as well as being undemocratic.
The letter has beenÂ sent to the Secretaries of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, as well as theÂ Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. It has also beenÂ signed by MPs, parish councillorsÂ and London Assembly MembersÂ
In total,Â 40 councils have also formally opposed the government's plans, whileÂ more than 20 Conservative MPs have threatened to rebel against the government over these proposals.
Ben Bradley, Conservative MP for Mansfield, said: '˜It's vital that residents can have a say in the development of their communities, and particularly regarding fracking where there is simply not the public trust at this time to justify driving through decisions without consultation.'
Tim Hall, Conservative councillorÂ and chairman of the planning and regulatory committee, Surrey County Council, said: '˜The current planning framework works reasonably, the centralisation of planning is anti-democratic and will lead to more problems with controversial sites in areas of outstanding natural beauty or other protected sites.'
Tytus Murphy, campaigner for 350.org, which fights climate change, said: '˜Councillors are up in arms at these proposals and the widespread support from members from all different political parties across the country shows the strength of feeling there is about these proposals.
'˜With this level of support we can apply pressure on the government. WithÂ this overwhelming support from councillors and those in power I'm very confident we can stamp out fracking.'