York’s Conservative councillors have replied to a Government consultation rejecting the case for using permitted development rights to speed up the planning process for fracking, calling the proposal “wholly inappropriate” with the potential to “irreparably damage residents’ confidence in the fairness of our planning system”.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has currently put out to consultation the question of whether permitted development rights, which are a national grant of planning permission usually used for one-off locations (such as Heathrow Airport) or for local changes of use (agricultural to residential use for example) should be applied to applications for shale gas exploration (fracking).
Cllr Paul Doughty, Strensall Ward, said “I welcome our group taking this position. We believe that applying permitted development rights to large-scale processes such as fracking is just wrong. Whatever the potential benefits to the UK economy from shale gas extraction, which we acknowledge could be considerable, allowing developers to circumvent the usual planning process is not the way to go about it.
“Removing such a controversial form of development from the usual planning regime, even with safeguards, would in our opinion severely undermine trust in the planning process.
“Also, at a time when the Government is facilitating more local autonomy through devolution and the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ programme we find it somewhat contradictory for central government to try to claw back important decision-making powers regarding a planning issue which has very local implications.”