Reacting to the news that the UK Government has introduced new planning guidelines that could see ministers overrule local authorities if they are seen to be ‘obstructive’ to fracking proposals, Flick Monk, Unconventional Gas Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“With this drillers’ charter, the UK Government seems intent on overriding the democratic safeguards of the English planning system and shutting out local voices from crucial decisions about fracking developments that will have major impacts on their communities.

“Conservatives across England will find these new measures difficult to explain to their constituents. The fracking industry is deeply unpopular across the whole of the UK, highlighted by the recent decision in Lancashire that rejected a fracking proposal by Cuadrilla after threatened local communities united in opposition.

“Conservative, SNP and Labour MPs who are willing to stand up for the health and wellbeing of their constituents must now unite in the interests of their constituents and call for a UK wide moratorium on the unconventional gas industry before drilling starts all over England.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

There is a rumour that the UK Government may also announce the first of two tranches of results of the 14th round of onshore oil & gas licensing for England today.

The Scottish Government announced a moratorium on Shale Gas and Coal Bed Methane extraction, including fracking, on 28 January 2015 pending a health impact assessment report, a public consultation, regulatory reform and planning reform: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/fracking-moratorium-scotland

Opposition for fracking remains at 43%, according to a YouGov poll: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/19/public-opposition-to-…

Councillors deferred the Preston New Road fracking decision until Monday 29 June after receiving legal advice over whether they could turn the application down: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/fracking-decision-on-lanc…

Fracking operations in Lancashire were suspended for two years when Cuadrilla’s operations caused earthquakes in 2011.

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:

* Scotland's leading environmental campaigning organisation

* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland

* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.

www.foe-scotland.org.uk