Wakefield councillors raise concerns about fracking in debate

​Date:19/02/2016

PR ref: 6178

Wakefield councillors have unanimously called on the Government to ensure the final say on planning applications for fracking are made by local councillors, representing the views of local residents.

Hydraulic fracking is a controversial technique used to extract gas and oil from 'shale' rock by injecting water at high pressure.

Cllr Peter Box CBE, leader of Wakefield Council, said: "The views of residents on fracking are paramount. This is why we are calling on the government to ensure that people have a say in local planning decisions that affect our district and that the final decision is made by those elected to represent them."

A meeting of Full Council at County Hall saw councillors debate and agree a detailed motion which calls on the Government to reverse the policy of fast tracking applications. They want to remove the threat of the Secretary of State to make planning decisions, ensuring that local councillors always have the final say.

The motion is also calling on the Government to withdraw fracking exploratory licences until environmental and health concerns have been comprehensively addressed. This will include applying safeguards to green spaces, national parks and for heritage sites including Sandal Castle and Pontefract Castle.

Councillors also agreed to call for the Government to provide the conditions for British companies working on renewable energy to thrive, in order to reduce dependence on renewables.

Additionally, they agreed that any proposals to introduce fracking to the Wakefield district should only be done with local public support and once all safety concerns have been fully addressed.

At the meeting Cllr Box, said a lot of technology is new and there was a lot to discover. Many countries across the world have banned fracking over concerns about its impact on the environment.

Members of the council's planning committee did not take part in the debate, so that they cannot be considered to have pre-judged any applications submitted to the authority.