fracking site

A Labour member is calling on Cheshire East Council to make sure it has a voice if gas firms apply to frack on the borough’s land, writes Stephen Topping.

Cllr Nick Mannion, member for Macclesfield West and Ivy, told Thursday’s full council meeting that CEC should challenge the Government over its policy to make decisions on fracking sites that go against the wishes of both communities and local planning authorities.

He urged leader Cllr Rachel Bailey, Conservative member for Audlem, to write to Cheshire East’s MPs and the Government – urging them to listen to select committee advice issued on July 5, which said fracking decisions should be made locally.

Cllr Mannion said: “The Government announced a few days ago that it is persisting with its proposal to remove the decision-making mineral planning powers on fracking applications from local authorities.

“It is mineral planning authorities that have the knowledge of their areas needed to judge the impact of fracking – not ministers sitting in Whitehall.

“Indeed, the Government has failed to provide any justification as to why fracking is a special case – as it did with the extra runway at Heathrow Airport – and should not continue to be considered within the general mineral planning application process.

“Such a change would be hugely harmful to local democracy and the principles and spirit of localism – and risks worsening the strained relationships between local communities and the fracking industry.”

The Government gave fracking firm Cuadrilla the green light to frack on land near Preston on its last day before the summer recess.

Rival company INEOS currently holds a licence to frack shale gas on land in the Knutsford area.

Responding to Cllr Mannion, Cllr Bailey said: “If I write to our MPs and if I write to the secretary of state, I know what the answer will be – that this is subject to the local planning process.

“I therefore suggest, bearing in mind your reference to policy, that I will happily consider a written answer or I will look to consider it in cabinet with a brief.”

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