Archived press release
Press & Media
New planning guidance for local authorities on fracking, announced by the Government today [Friday 19 July 2013], has been slammed by Friends of the Earth.
The environment charity says the planning guidance will ride roughshod over local concerns about shale gas exploration and extraction, with little regard for its impact on the wellbeing of local people or the environment. Friends of the Earth also hit out at the Government’s refusal to consult the public on its plans, taking away the voice of local people.
Friends of the Earth Head of Campaigns Andrew Pendleton said:
“These 'guidelines' are little more than a carte blanche to dispatch dirty energy companies into the British countryside to start sinking thousands of new fracking wells – and without any consultation.
“This could threaten communities’ quality of life and will mean more climate-changing pollution being pumped into our atmosphere – and despite all the hype, there’s plenty of evidence that it won’t lead to cheaper fuel bills.
“These damaging proposals should be ripped up and replaced with planning guidelines that safeguard the long-term future of people and the planet.”
Friends of the Earth says the Government’s planning guidance for local authorities on fracking is not fit for purpose because:
• It undermines UK commitments ' to help secure radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions’ – as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework 2012 ;
• it fails to ensure that groundwater pollution is prevented [2,3];
• it doesn’t specify that comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessments are conducted for all applications ;
• the plans are not subject to public consultation.
Notes to editors:
1. The National Planning Policy Framework 2012 (national planning guidance for England) says (paragraph 93) 'Planning plays a key role in helping shape places to secure radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions'.
2. The EU Water Framework Directive says that the presumption in relation to groundwater should broadly be that it should not be polluted at all – and takes what is essentially a precautionary approach to ensure this happens. It comprises a prohibition on direct discharges to groundwater, and (to cover indirect discharges) a requirement to monitor groundwater bodies so as to detect changes in chemical composition, and to reverse any anthropogenically induced upward pollution trend. Taken together, these should ensure the protection of groundwater from all contamination, according to the principle of minimum anthropogenic impact.
3. The Groundwater Directive prohibits the input of “hazardous substances” into groundwater.
4. Last week the Environment Committee of the European Parliament called for comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessments for all fracking applications.
5. As well as the planning permission, developers currently need radioactive waste permits, groundwater permits and permits under the Mining Waste Directive, which are issued by the Environment Agency.
6. Friends of the Earth has published an interactive map showing areas of the UK currently licensed and under consideration for licensing.
7. On 12 September 2012, Prime Minister David Cameron promised that "any future shale gas production would have to ... follow deep consultation with local communities".
8. A Friends of the Earth briefing on shale gas is available here.