Let Communities Decide: along with over 850 other councillors, I have signed an open letter opposing government proposals to fast-track fracking

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Our letter (with the full list of signatories) can be found hereClaire Wright has also signed, along with Jacqi Hodgson, our Green colleague in the Non-Aligned Group on Devon County Council (that’s 3 of the 4 members of our group), and also several Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative members (but apart from Claire and me, no one else from East Devon).

I’ve signed a petition by councillors against the Government’s move to allow fracking exploration under permitted development rules

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Here’s the text:

Dear Claire Perry MP (CC James Brokenshire MP, Greg Clarke MP),

The UK government has proposed changes to planning rules that would allow exploratory drilling for shale gas to be considered “permitted development”, removing the need for fracking companies to apply for planning permission.

The current planning framework for shale gas provides an important regulatory process for the industry, offering necessary checks and balances by local authorities who best understand the circumstances in their areas. Crucially, it also allows communities directly affected a say in how, and whether, shale gas exploration proceeds in their neighbourhoods.

We believe that applying permitted development to exploratory shale gas drilling represents a distortion of its intention and is a misuse of the planning system. Permitted Development was originally intended to be used to speed up planning decisions on small developments – like garden sheds or erecting a fence – not drilling for shale gas.

As elected representatives of our communities, we the undersigned call for the withdrawal of this proposal, and respect for the right of communities to make decisions on shale gas activities in their areas through the local planning system.