Lib Dems seek clarity on Fracking in Gloucestershire

July 13, 2016 5:27 PM

Liberal Democrat members on the County Council Environment & Communities Scrutiny Committee have today successfully secured a request that Cabinet includes a strengthened policy on fracking in the new Minerals Local Plan.

FrackingThe Council's Environment & Communities Scrutiny Committee met at Shire Hall to consider the Draft Minerals Local Plan prior to consideration at the Cabinet meeting next Wednesday 20th July 2016.

The current minerals local plan adopted in 2003 is in need of comprehensive review and a new Minerals Local Plan (MLP) is anticipated to be adopted in 2018, which will provide the framework against which planning and other minerals-related decisions will be made including the extraction of unconventional hydrocarbons via methods such as fracking.

The majority of members today felt that the Draft Minerals Local Plan 'Policy MW06' framework for the exploration and production of oil and gas including through the deployment of unconventional techniques was 'vague' and in need of 'strengthening'. Calls for a clearer policy on fracking had been made by the current Leader of the County Liberal Democrat Group two years ago back in June 2014.

Cllr Chris ColemanCllr. Chris Coleman (LD: St Mark's & St Peter's) new member of the Committee who proposed for a vote to be taken in order to firm up the Council's position on fracking said that:

"I'm delighted the majority of members today supported my call for a strengthened policy with the presumption against fracking to be included within the Minerals Local Plan. I hope the Conservative Cabinet Member will listen to the views of this particular Committee as Gloucestershire's Mineral Local plan goes through several preparation stages to final implementation.

"I've also today called for the consultation process to be strengthened as it is a huge and complex document with not very much time being given for members of the public to feedback during the summer period when people tend to go away.

"It is a very important issue across Gloucestershire and I am deeply concerned that without a strong policy the Tory administration will allow such controversial fracking to take place in our beautiful county."

Liberal Democrat Shadow for Fire, Planning and Infrastructure, Cllr. Bernie Fisher (LD: St Paul's and Swindon) also said:

"I'm pleased we had a vote today as it certainly shows the strength of resentment in possibly having fracking thrust upon us. It would be good to see a policy that informs those considering applying for a fracking licence what the council's view is on this highly contentious issue and whether this sides on the presumption against fracking then that is the case."

"As Cllr. Hodgkinson has alluded to before we'll be keeping a close eye throughout the process of adopting this new plan."