Authorities told to Fast-track Fracking Applications
New guidance issued by the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) will warn local authorities that if they fail to meet planning targets aimed at ‘fast-tracking’ applications for fracking, they face decisions being taken out of their hands.
The news comes at the same time as DECC are set to announce the winners in the auction for shale exploration blocks in less controversial areas of the country. It is believed that around 95 firms have applied for the 300 licenses available.
Local authorities had previously been offered double the usual amount of business rates from the industry as an incentive to grant planning permission for the controversial process.
Talking in the Sunday Times, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said, “Natural gas meets a third of our energy demand and we will need it for many years to come, even as we de-carbonise. Britain is currently on course to be importing about 75 percent of its oil and gas resources by 2030 – we need more home-grown energy supplies and shale gas must play a part in that. The choice is not gas or no gas. The choice is how much we rely on gas from abroad or whether we extract more in the UK.” Ms Rudd also believes that the industry could create up to 60,000 new jobs, but the move is bound to come under fire from environmental campaigners concerned over potential harm to water supplies and wildlife.