Communities could be given mandatory early say on fracking proposals

Shale gas fracking firms could be handed a mandatory requirement to consult with communities before submitting planning applications, a government consultation has suggested.

Fracking: process has proved controversial
Fracking: process has proved controversial

Ministers yesterday published a consultation paper seeking views on "compulsory community pre-application consultation for shale gas development".

The document says that the proposed mandatory pre-application community consultations on shale gas projects could resemble processes that already exist for nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs) or onshore wind development. 

It says that pre-application consultation with communities "could further strengthen the role local people play in the planning process". 

The document seeks views on whether compulsory pre-application consultations for shale gas developments should apply "where certain criteria or thresholds are reached", or whether they should "cover all shale gas development where a planning application is required". 

The proposals are part of a series of measures being considered to address delays in the determination of shale planning applications.

Previous consultations have asked whether permitted development rights should be granted for non-hydraulic fracturing shale exploration development.

The government has also consulted on the criteria required to trigger the inclusion of shale production projects in the streamlined NSIP planning regime.

Yesterday's counsultation document says the government will issue responses to these consultations "in due course". 

The consultation runs for 10 weeks from 31 October 2018.

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