The Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Planning and Licensing Committee has expressed disappointment about a Government warning that it would take decisions over fracking out of local authorities’ hands, if it deems they aren’t being dealt with quickly enough.
Responding to a statements by Ministers today, Councillor John Wilkinson, Chairman of Planning and Licensing Committee at Nottinghamshire County Council said that both the speed and the quality of the decision making process are important.
He said; “The Council always aims to take decisions on planning applications within the statutory timeframes and Government figures confirm that the Council is performing well in this respect. Where extensions are required beyond these timeframes, they are often agreed by the applicant themselves, especially in complex cases, a matter confirmed in the Government statement today.
“The Secretary of State has the authority to call-in any application to determine himself at any time – so there’s actually nothing new in terms of extra powers or instructions being announced today. However, the tone of the comments is very disappointing and appears to be a threat to local democracy and decision-making.
“We deal with extremely complicated and sometimes controversial applications which we want to give local people, the Council, other organisations and the applicant themselves every opportunity to express their views, negotiate solutions to any problems or seek clarity on particular issues. This can be time consuming.
“Planning decisions can potentially have an impact on local communities for many years to come and whilst it’s in nobody’s interest for unnecessary delays, proper compilation of and consideration of all relevant evidence is essential. It’s more important for all concerned that correct decisions are taken, rather than simply focussing on the speed of the decision.”
Nottinghamshire County Council has not received any planning application for shale gas exploration or extraction.
However, Island Gas Limited (IGas) has submitted an application seeking planning permission to install monitoring boreholes on land off Springs Road, to the north-east of Misson in Bassetlaw, close to the Nottinghamshire, Doncaster and North Lincolnshire local government boundary.
The proposed development would involve drilling of up to 12 boreholes across four locations, to monitor groundwater.
The planning application for the monitoring boreholes is associated with exploratory shale gas drilling, and would help establish existing groundwater conditions. The boreholes would be monitored for a period of at least 12 months, and may be required for a longer period depending on the outcome of any future exploratory drilling application.
For further background information on shale gas exploration, the planning process and other types of oil and gas extraction in Nottinghamshire, visit www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/shalegas