The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF) is today calling on the Government to examine ways of speeding up shale gas exploration in the UK, following on from Lancashire County Council’s decision to reject Cuadrilla’s application for exploratory drilling at the Preston New Road site near Blackpool.
The GWPF recommends that the Department of Energy and Climate Change should consider treating shale gas fields as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs), which would give the Secretary of State the final say on planning applications rather than local councils. Renewable energy projects such as offshore wind, tidal power and biomass plants above 50 MW are already treated as NSIPs.
Earlier this month, planning officers recommended that permission for exploration at the Preston New Road site should be granted, after being satisfied that there were no reasonable environmental grounds to refuse the application. The decision of Lancashire County Council, which goes against the advice of its own planning officers, has led to concerns about the prospect of further delays to shale gas exploration in the UK.
Responding to the decision by Lancashire County Council, the GWPF’s director Dr Benny Peiser said:
“It is very disappointing to hear that Lancashire County Council have rejected this application, despite its own planning officers recommending that permission should be given.
“Shale exploration is clearly in the national interest and nimbyism should not stand in the way of Britain’s energy security.
“David Cameron has claimed that he wants to see Britain ‘go all out for shale’. In light of this decision by Lancashire County Council, the Government needs to urgently review its shale gas strategy to ensure that speedy exploration can take place. It should strongly consider the option of treating shale gas fields as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects.”