Council Scrutiny board is intimidated

Supporters may remember that the Council slashed severely the resolution on fracking, in effect saying that this is something that should be considered by the scrutiny board.

Well this met the 21st of October. A paper was prepared, by an officer presumably, and approved by two other officers. Note that officers are very unlikely to let there own views, or politics, to influence the report, therefore resulting in advice about procedures.   And this paper stated that:

4.11 Attempts to introduce „blanket bans‟ to refuse planning permission either through the mineral plan or otherwise is not a realistic option, and would be likely to expose an authority to costs on challenge if pursued.

The edict seemed to intimidate the board.  Surely the scrutiny board should not allow itself to be gagged. Although motions concerning fracking are, to a point, symbolic they achieve three things:

  1. It’s an opportunity to raise the issues and force councillors to make some sort of decision (ie it focuses their minds).
  2. It might have a deterrent effect to fracking companies. People in FoE have drawn analogies with the number of planning applications for wind farms in areas where councils have made similar – non-binding- anti wind motions.
  3. In the event of an application it provides leverage in the ensuing debate.

As it is there have been many discussions by councils, up and down the country, about fracking. This is a healthy. After all it is claimed (by all sides) that massive investment in fracking will have a massive impact upon all of us. The table inside this letter (click here)  shows  places where such discussions have taken place. In most of cases, once  debates have taken place, councils have decided to oppose fracking and promote renewable energy. This does not lead to the actual banning of fracking but it helps develop and inform all of us.

The next paragraph of the recommendations stated that:

4.12 The guidance makes clear that planning applications should be assessed on a
case by case basis, having regard to all material issues.

While planning applications can be very important, and a means to oppose, the problem is two fold:

  1. It is rather unlikely that there will be any planning applications.
  2. Focusing upon the specific means that general considerations get forgotten.

We in Derby Climate Coalition argued that it is important to make a general stand, even if there is no chance of fracking within the city boundaries.

Lets step over the problems of  water contamination, water shortages and air contamination and state, as a climate group, that above all the reason for opposing fracking is that fracking, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

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