Conservative MPs suggest easing of planning laws to allow fracking to go ahead

The fracking site at Preston New Road

Conservative MPs have called for an easing of planning laws to allow fracking to go ahead where there is local support.

A few months ago more than a decade of efforts to develop fracking for shale gas seemed to be over, as authorities ordered the sealing of the only two horizontal drilled wells, in Lancashire.

But with the energy crisis there has been pressure to look again at the controversial gas source, and the order to permanently seal the wells has been suspended.

The Government has this week commissioned a review into the science around fracking, which could pave the way to lifting the moratorium on the controversial process, imposed over the tremors it caused.

The backbench 1922 Committee on Beis (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) urged ministers to create a "permissive planning regime" for both shale gas extraction and renewable energy developments such as wind farms.

The two wells at Caudrilla's Preston New Road site won't be sealed for at least another year Credit: PA

Under the proposal, planning consent would require the support of a majority of residents in a local referendum.

As an incentive they could be offered either free or highly subsidised energy or alternatively a share of the revenues from the scheme.

"No community or landowner should have new schemes forced upon them, but members believe there are good incentives available that could result in a more realistic and permissive approach to new developments," the MPs said.

The report by the committee - chaired by former environment secretary Dame Andrea Leadsom - came as the Government launched its own energy security strategy.

  • The North West could be at the forefront of hydrogen power, in the UK's efforts to find an alternative to fossil fuels. It has been announced that one of the first-ever, low-carbon hydrogen production plants will be built at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire.