D-Day is looming in the fight over fracking as decisions are set to be made on three landmark drilling plans in a make-or-break week for shale gas.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has until Thursday to decide whether to overrule local councillors and allow energy firm Cuadrilla to frack at two sites in Lancashire.
Planning officials in Nottinghamshire will also meet on Wednesday to decide whether to approve a plan by IGas to explore for shale gas at a former Cold War nuclear missile launch site in the county.
Anti-fracking campaigners say the Government’s climate change policy and local democracy hang in the balance, while one industry leader said this week is a “pivotal moment” for the UK shale gas industry.
Donna Hume, a senior campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “The next few days will prove whether the Government take the challenges of climate change seriously. If they do, they will see sense and also listen to the deafening roar of local people who absolutely do not want fracking. There are cleaner, and more efficient, ways of meeting our energy needs. Fracking is an unproven technology and going all out for it actively hinders us from meeting the 1.5 degree agreement that the UK signed up to in Paris.”
Cuadrilla’s plans were thrown out by Lancashire County Council last summer, despite one site, Preston New Road, being recommended for approval. The firm’s appeal was heard at a public inquiry last year, with the secret verdict of the inspector referred to Mr Javid.
Cuadrilla’s chief executive Francis Egan said this week that it was ”confident“ that the Government would approve its plans in a ”pivotal moment“ for the UK shale gas industry. […]
All out for shale
David Cameron said last year that the Government was ”going all out for shale“. Labour has strengthened its opposition to fracking, saying it would ban the controversial technique if it came to power.
Mr Javid said he could not talk about individual applications when asked if the Government supported fracking. But he told Sky News:
”In general terms, I think this Government has already been clear. “It was clear under David Cameron and it is clear under Theresa May that fracking and using the resources we have in this country is part of the future of this country and part of having the economy at works for everyone.”