A bold new move by Greater Manchester councils could force the government to reconsider its fracking plans. On 7 January, 10 councils that represent the region will announce plans to add a “presumption” against any planning requests for fracking. This would mean that any requests for permission to frack in the Greater Manchester area would be automatically rejected. The presumption will be part of the 2nd draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.
A Radical Move
Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham shared the plans on Twitter:
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“We [have] a full commitment to renewable energy and not clinging on to processes that hark back to a past.” 🌳☀️🍃
Ahead of the forthcoming publication of the new draft Spatial Framework, the city-region is sending a clear green message.
— Mayor Andy Burnham (@MayorofGM) January 4, 2019
The move was celebrated by Jeremy Corbyn:
Greater Manchester has just announced a ban on fracking as part of its plans to become carbon neutral. Well done @AndyBurnhamGM and all those who have campaigned for this.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) January 4, 2019
The challenge comes as opposition to fracking is growing. The government gave permission for Cuadrilla to frack in Lancashire despite vehement objections from locals. Earthquakes and tremors were reported within days of Cuadrilla beginning its extracting. The well site has also been on the receiving end of numerous protests and demonstrations. Meanwhile, the government has been criticised by politicians on both sides of the aisle for allowing fracking to proceed.
Environmental activists have welcomed the move by Greater Manchester. A representative of the Campaign to Protect Rural England told the Guardian:
The decision is symbolic of the growing opposition to the government’s plans to fast-track fracking, which look to override local democracy by disregarding the wishes of local communities and deny those very people the opportunity to have their say on decisions that will ultimately affect them and the health of their countryside.
London joins the fray
There are also suspicions that Cuadrilla could cease to extract gas in Lancashire. It has been removing equipment from the site since 18 December. The firm has denied this, however, saying it is only moving equipment that “we don’t own and isn’t needed”.