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Councillor from Carlton leading fight against plans to fast-track fracking in Notts

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A councillor for Carlton is leading the fight against proposals by the Government to remove the need for fracking firms to gain local planning permission for test sites in the county.

Labour’s Cllr Jim Creamer, who represents the Carlton West ward, was joined by Conservatives on Nottinghamshire County Council in putting together a draft response to two Government consultations proposing the removal of the need for initial planning permission for testing, or exploratory work by fracking firms.

The response says that the effect of the proposed plans would “remove the local level of decision making and local accountability that communities expect”.

Fracking, or ‘hydraulic fracturing’ involves drilling small but deep holes in the ground, and then setting off explosions underground.

Shale gas which is trapped in the ground then escapes, and can be captured.

Companies looking to frack currently have to gain planning permission from the local authority before they can start test drilling to see if there is any gas there. The firm then requires the need further permission to extract the gas.

The Government hopes to remove the need for initial planning permission for testing, or exploratory work.

If gas is then found, they also wants any decision on whether to frack made nationally, rather than by the local council.

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Cllr Creamer, who is also the Vice Chair for Planning for Nottinghamshire County Council, said he was delighted by the show of support from all political parties when drafting the response.

He said: “This represents a victory for local democracy at a time when it is seriously under threat. This consultation is the thin end of the wedge, and is something all authorities should consider, as it could be the start of an erosion of local decision making for vast array of planning matters, giving commercial interests an unfair advantage over the voices of local people.

“We are delighted that our Conservative colleagues in this administration saw fit to support our move to retain the ability to assess shale gas applications within the authority”

“We believe that local councils are always the best and most appropriate places to make decisions on fracking applications, not Westminster or Whitehall”.

A spokesman for the Government’s Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government, which is running one of the consultations, told BBC Local Democracy Reporter Kit Sanderman: “No one benefits from delays in planning decisions.  That’s why we are committed to planning reforms to help ensure quicker decision making on shale applications.

“We are holding early stage consultation on the principle of whether non-hydraulic fracturing shale exploration development should be treated as permitted development, and this consultation is currently in process. ”

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