North East MPs lobby Prime Minister David Cameron over fracking decisions

Campaigners want Mr Cameron to ensure that decisions are made locally and that they are not overturned by national Government

PA Wire David Cameron
David Cameron

Campaigners are calling on the Prime Minister to honour a pledge that sees local authorities make decisions over fracking.

Mary Glindon, MP for North Tyneside, and Ian Mearns, MP for Gateshead, want David Cameron to ensure that decisions are made locally and that they are not overturned by national Government.

They were responding to his comments after being asked whether he would stand by the decision of Lancashire Council to reject fracking and ensure it was not overturned.

David Cameron said that “these decisions must be made by local authorities under the planning system”, but stopped short of committing that the decision would not be overturned, adding that “he hoped over time, fracking would go ahead whether in Lancashire or elsewhere”.

It follows a decision by Lancashire County Council last week to reject fracking in the county.

In response, Ms Glindon said: “David Cameron should respect local decision making on fracking, and make a firm commitment that the decision by Lancashire County Council to reject fracking should not be overturned.

“Fracking poses serious risks to local people, including to drinking water, health, and the environment and I do not believe it should go ahead in our area, or elsewhere in the UK.

“Any move to prevent communities from rejecting fracking on their doorstep would be fundamentally undemocratic.”

Energy company Cuadrilla may appeal the Lancashire decision, despite the overwhelming opposition of residents to fracking.

Any appeal would be overseen by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, who could make the final decision.

Gateshead MP Mr Mearns added: “I genuinely wonder whether the Prime Minister and his colleagues would be as eager to pursue fracking for gas in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire or Kent.

We already know what one of his colleagues in the Lords, Lord Howell, thinks of Northern England having described the North East as desolate only to retract and say he meant the North West.”

Friends of the Earth campaigners have welcomed local councils making decisions on fracking.

Simon Bowens said: “The fracking industry was dealt a yet another significant blow when Lancashire County Council responded to overwhelming local opposition and rejected another application to frack in the county.

“It is good news that David Cameron recognised that decision making on fracking should be made by local authorities.

“However, he now needs to make a commitment that Government will not impose fracking on Lancashire or any community in the UK.

“Fracking’s unpopular wherever it’s proposed and it is time for the Government to drop plans to open up vast swathes of the country to possible fracking.”

Fracking is a technique designed to recover gas and oil from shale rock and involves drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer