Park authority issues message on fracking

The authority will write to the Government about fracking.
The authority will write to the Government about fracking.

The North York Moors National Park Authority is set to send the Government an unequivocal message that fracking should not be granted the same planning leeway as home extensions.

Members of the authority will meet to consider its formal response to a consultation announced in May by Business Secretary Greg Clark to help create “the world’s most environmentally robust onshore shale gas sector”.

Petrochemicals giant Ineos, which earlier this year refused to rule out planning to frack under the North York Moors, has warned the Government delays in exploiting shale gas is causing Britain to become overly-dependent on imports from Russia and the Middle East.

An officer’s report to the national park authority suggests its response to the Government should be that “a balance needs to be struck between timely decision-making and the need for appropriate scrutiny of development proposals at a local level”.

It warns that the Government’s intention not to apply a new permitted development right in national parks “may not be maintained” and that such schemes outside the national park boundary could give rise to potential impacts within it.

The officer’s report also questions the rationale behind giving permitted development rights to non-hydraulic fracturing.

The report states arguments for introducing permitted development for the type of fracking are further undermined as drilling to explore for shale gas in North Yorkshire is likely to require drilling to a greater depth than for conventional gas resources and may take longer.

Jim Bailey, chairman of the authority, said he believed allowing fracking firms to avoid getting planning consent would be “an unpopular step for the public” and local planning authorities were best placed to consider the issues.

Mr Bailey said: “All planning authorities and certainly national parks should have consideration of these matters within their boundaries.

“We have just been through a process of developing a local mineral planning strategy that has involved a lot of work and a huge amount of public consultation that demonstrates the constraints that should be applied. That’s enabling developments and it would seem rather perverse to substitute that just as it is being implemented.”