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Ineos Asks UK Government To Fast-Track Shale Revolution

The Times

Ineos is seeking to bypass local councils by using controversial new rules to fast-track plans to drill for shale gas in the Midlands without their planning approval.

The privately held petrochemicals giant run by the billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, one of the world’s ten biggest chemical companies with operations in 16 countries and sales of $40 billion a year, is taking the lead in the development of Britain’s shale gas industry.

It will become the first business to use powers created in 2015 to allow companies to request intervention from ministers in order to secure permission for delayed infrastructure projects deemed to be of national importance.

Under the rules, councils that unreasonably delay planning decisions can be stripped of their decision-making authority and overruled by Sajid Javid, the local government secretary, via the planning inspectorate. Ineos plans to apply formally to Mr Javid within days for intervention on two delayed projects in Derbyshire and near Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

The powers, which were created to accelerate decisions on industrial projects such as shale gas exploration, the construction of power stations and railway-building, are likely to trigger intense opposition from environmental groups opposed to fracking. Ineos applied for permission to drill at the sites in May, but six months later says it has received no decision from either Derbyshire county council or Rotherham metropolitan borough council.

Tom Pickering, operations director at Ineos Shale, said that the decision to write to Mr Javid requesting that he intervene had “not been taken lightly. We understand the pressures on councils to make decisions of national importance at a local level. Nevertheless, because of the unreasonable delays we have been left without an option.”

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