As some of you will be aware, 38 Degrees recently ran a campaign on planning permission for shale gas exploration. I agree that this is an important issue. Instead of encouraging the use of fossil fuels by making the planning process easier for their development, we should be boosting renewable energy projects.
In 2016, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published a report on shale gas and our climate change targets. It found that fracking was not compatible with these targets unless it met several conditions, including that gas consumption remains in line with our carbon budgets. Yet these budgets require our gas consumption to decrease sharply after 2030. Fracking would therefore commit us to fossil fuels long after we need to have moved to clean energy. It was for this reason that at the 2017 general election I stood on a manifesto that included a commitment to ban fracking.
I also agree with you about local democracy in planning decisions. The Government has side-lined democratic planning authorities in the planning system. Its decision to allow fracking in Lancashire, for example, overrode both Lancashire council’s rejection of a proposed fracking site and the opposition of local people. Too often, developers’ profits take priority over community priorities. Rather than making changes that will undermine local decision-making, we should give planning authorities greater powers to put people and communities at the heart of planning.
My Labour Party colleagues and I will oppose the Government’s current proposals on this issue at every opportunity. The Government should be banning fracking, not promoting it.