Motion to limit fracking in Gloucestershire fails

AN ATTEMPT by a Green Party county councillor to limit the potential for future fracking operations in Gloucestershire has failed.

Cllr Sarah Lunnon, who represents the Stroud central division, tabled a motion at a meeting of Gloucestershire County Council on Wednesday, November 20, calling on the authority to tighten regulations to make it harder for fracking companies to gain planning consent.

Her motion, which was seconded by Independent Cllr Mike Sztymiak, urged the council to amend its Mineral Local Plan to require any application for the extraction of hydrocarbons to “demonstrate the climate change impact of the extraction”.

The motion also said that mining operations should only be permitted in the county if it could be proved that they would not lead to higher levels of green house gases in the atmosphere.

With potential shale gas deposits in the Forest of Dean and at locations around the Cotswolds, Cllr Mike Sztymiak said he supported the motion because of the threat posed by climate change and because of a ‘danger of environmental concerns slipping down the political agenda’.

The leader of the Liberal Democrat group Colin Hay said he could not back the motion in its current form but his party would support a move to refer it to the council’s scrutiny committee.

However, fierce opposition from the Conservative benches put paid to the Lib Dem leader’s proposal and ultimately saw the motion emphatically defeated, with only three councillors voting in favour of it.

Tory Cllr Robert Bird blasted the motion as ‘worrying’ and ‘flawed’ and said it was born out of the ‘ill-conceived idealism of the comfortable classes’.

Conservative leader Mark Hawthorne said there was a ‘low-risk’ of fracking taking place in the county and that it was an issue for national policymakers, not county councillors.

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