Environmental campaigners sound warning over Tory manifesto fracking plans

Reports that environmental campaigners have warned that Conservative manifesto plans to overhaul the planning process for fracking 'goes against the Tories' own localism agenda' feature in today's newspaper round-up.

Environmental campaigners warn that Tory manifesto plans mean that "unaccountable commissioners" will get to make recommendations on fracking applications, with the "final decision being taken away from local councillors", The Times (subscription required) reports. It says that Friends of the Earth said that the plan was undemocratic and "goes against the Tories’ own localism agenda". It adds that Emma Gibson, a Greenpeace energy campaigner, said: "Having failed to convince people of the benefits of shale gas, the government now wants to strip them of their ability to say no."

A Tory manifesto pledge to shake up the property industry by digitising the planning system to create the "largest repository of open land data in the world" would be the "first time that an attempt was made by a government to map exactly who owns the UK’s land", the Daily Telegraph reports. The newspaper says that campaigners believe opening up the data will help curb so-called landbanking. "It is not known exactly how much land most of the major housebuilders and other strategic land companies own because there is no need to register land option agreements publicly," the newspaper says.

The Times (subscription required) also reports that Tory manifesto plans to support onshore wind farms on remote Scottish islands represent a "big victory for developers including SSE and EDF". The manifesto also opened the door to the possibility of more onshore wind farms on the Scottish mainland or in Wales, while saying the party does "not believe that more large-scale onshore wind power is right for England", according to the newspaper.

National Grid’s chief executive has warned that Labour’s plan to take the electricity system operator back into public ownership would harm the UK’s switch to using more green energy, the Guardian reports. The newspaper says that John Pettigrew said that renationalisation was the "last thing the industry needs" as it invested to accommodate more wind and solar power".

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