Environment

Leaked Fracking Letter Exposes Underhand Westminster Tactics

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Leaked Fracking Letter

The contents of a leaked fracking letter published on 29th January 2016 in The Telegraph, exposes further proof of the UK government’s underground corporate agenda to strip local councils of the power to reject fracking applications. The letter, dated July 2015, was only just disclosed to Friends of the Earth at the weekend and was signed by three prominent MPs: Energy Secretary of State, Amber Rudd; Environment Secretary of State, Elizabeth Truss, and Communities and Local Government Secretary of State, Greg Clark.

leaked fracking letter

The Right Honorable Greg Clark, MP
MP for Tunbridge Wells, Greg Clark, recovered the Lancashire fracking appeals late in 2015, stating he would make the final decision over the two site refusal appeals, instead of the planning inspector, due to the shale development proposals having major importance of “more than local significance”.
The revelation of these backdoor government workings offers further substantiation that Westminster is prepared to overrule local democracy in fracking applications in Lancashire and beyond. Clark’s high-profile involvement in the Lancashire Public Inquiry decision is consequently questionable, with hints of case predetermination towards his pro-fracking party line. His own empowering speech to local councils even states: “Take power now. Don’t let yourself, any longer, be ruled by someone else.” Ostensibly, this advice only applies if it matches the Conservative government’s ambitions.
leaked fracking letter
Pat Davies, above, from the Preston New Road Action Group in Lancashire, where Cuadrilla’s flagship fracking site is currently under appeal, stated: “This is yet again an attempt to subvert the democratic process. The government is striving to impose an industry through bypassing elected local planning committees, forcing fracking upon communities at any cost. This latest travesty from Westminster seems to be an attempt to predetermine outcomes in relation to fracking, irrespective of local community wishes.
“The involvement of Greg Clark and this document raises serious fundamental questions on Lancashire’s fracking appeal hearing about to take place. We would welcome an investigation from the Commons’ Energy and Climate Change committee on this exposed letter.”
Barbara Richardson (main picture) from Roseacre Awareness Group, the second rural Lancashire site earmarked for fracking, said: “Our group is currently in the process of preparing evidence by expert witnesses which supports Lancashire County Council’s decision to refuse planning permission at the two sites in Lancashire. It is costing our small community tens of thousands of pounds, and much stress and anxiety, but we are doing it because we believe we have a strong case and are justified. This leaked letter flies in the face of everything we are doing and the meaning of local democracy. How hypocritical of the government who advocate local decision making, such as on wind farms, but it appears to be only when it suits them and their agenda.
“Have Westminster not learned anything from the problems that have been experienced by people and countries living this fracking nightmare? Our government seems to have stuck their head in the sand and are determined not to pull it out. They are in for a wake up call as more and more communities become aware of what the impacts of this potentially large onshore gas industry really are. With awareness grows opposition and Westminster need to listen to the people or they will face the repercussions at the ballot box.”
Cuadrilla’s lodged appeal against Lancashire County Council’s fracking refusal starts on the 9th February 2016 in Blackpool. The Public Inquiry is expected to last up to 20 days, with Planning Inspector, non-practicing solicitor Wendy McKay presiding. Parties presenting evidence will be Cuadrilla and their legal team, along with the Rule 6 Parties and their legal representation: Friends of the Earth, Newton with Clifton Parish Council; North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce; Preston New Road Action Group; Roseacre Awareness Group and Roseacre and Wharles Parish Council.
This is one inquiry that the British media will be watching with intensity: the end result could have life-changing implications for communities throughout the UK.

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