Kirklees Council’s massive planning blueprint has been approved by a Government planning inspector.
But as it signs off on tens of thousands of new homes across the borough it also puts up obstacles for fracking companies wishing to drill for hydrocarbons such as shale gas.
And Green campaigners say it could have national implications.
The authority’s ambitious Local Plan will now go to debate at a special meeting of Kirklees Council on February 27. It is likely to be adopted and signed into law.
An order from the Government, the Local Plan includes 31,000 homes, many of which will have to built within the green belt as there is insufficient non-green belt land in the borough.
Reacting to the report by Katie Child of the Planning Inspectorate, council leader Shabir Pandor said it was “fantastic news” for Kirklees.
Also cheering was Green Group leader Clr Andrew Cooper, who said the inclusion of an amendment to a policy relating to hydrocarbon extraction proposals could have a crucial impact on fracking across the country.
The amendment, adopted by the council in 2016, says proposals for production of hydrocarbons should demonstrate “net zero impact on climate change.”
In short if the effects of fracking cannot be mitigated no approval will be given.
Clr Cooper said: “We cannot rule out fracking because that would go against national policy.
“But we have put a condition on that to make it more difficult for fracking applications to be accepted without getting over this reasonable hurdle.”
He added: “It’s the first time such a policy has been accepted in the UK and accepted by the government’s Planning Inspector.
“That policy could be applied in other authorities as they would be able to use Kirklees as an example.
“That makes it quite difficult for fracking companies to do it in other parts of the UK.
“The Government could overrule a local authority but it would be hard to justify it because we have gone through a process that the Government itself has approved through the Planning Inspectorate.
“They would be arguing against themselves.”
Ms Child said the vision, strategic objectives and spatial development strategy in the plan “provide a positive and soundly based framework for the delivery of sustainable development in Kirklees.”
Clr Pandor added: “The inspector believed we have been ambitious yet realistic in our economic aspirations for the district.”
His colleague Clr Peter McBride, who heads up the council’s regeneration projects, said: “The important thing now is that we deliver, because that is the way we can protect the green belt and our important urban green spaces against unwelcome development whilst delivering new homes that meet local needs.
“We will also have planned growth alongside infrastructure improvements.”
This content was originally published here.