London, 16 March: In light of the crisis in British-Russian relations, the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF) is calling on the Government to get its act together and speed up the development of UK shale gas.
In a submission to the shale gas inquiry by the UK Parliament’s Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee, the GWPF is urging the Government to deliver speedily upon its manifesto commitment to change planning law for shale applications:
“The length of time it has been taking for shale gas extraction to get planning approval demonstrates that the system is utterly failing. An approach is needed that can bring about swift but considered planning decisions, and that also provides the necessary reassurances for local communities that the environment is protected and disruption minimised.”
The submission emphasises the need for Britain to develop its shale resources to avoid becoming almost wholly reliant on foreign imports for its gas supply in the near future. Recent winter shortages have forced Britain to import emergency gas supplies from Russia. Moreover, Russia also provided about half of the coal used in UK last year. This growing energy dependence is a wholly unsustainable situation given Russia’s recent destructive and destabilising behaviour.
An important first step will be to change the law to class ‘non-fracking’ drilling as permitted development. This was an explicit manifesto commitment, and it would stop activists from delaying even preliminary stages of onshore oil and gas exploration.
The failure to deliver thus far has meant lost jobs, lower growth and missed opportunities for many people right across the country. But with the necessarily political will, the situation can rapidly change. There is no time to waste.