THE Conservative government has announced new measures to back British shale gas exploration, a move that rides roughshod over our democracy and should be treated as a national scandal.
Included in the plans was the possibility to allow fracking companies like INEOS and Third Energy to drill risky exploratory wells under permitted development without the need for planning permission and completely removing any chance for local communities and councils to have their voices heard.
You would need less planning approval for a shale gas well than say a new conservatory or garden wall.
Furthermore, the government will consider adding shale gas production applications into the ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects’ portfolio.
This is a move that would further erode the public’s ability to democratically challenge the fracking industry.
The Government’s own surveys show that only 17 per cent of the population are in favour of fracking and that the vast majority support renewables.
Rather than buckling under the pressure being applied by the likes of INEOS, whose owner, Jim Ratcliffe is now the country’s richest man, the Government should stand by its citizens.
It should seriously reconsider its dangerous and dated policies on fracking, and implement an immediate ban.
From: David Cragg-James, Stonegrave, York.
COMMUNITIES Secretary James Brokenshire seeks to make fracking applications much harder to oppose by incorporating them as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. At the same time, the Government cynically offers the pseudo-democratic smokescreens of consultation and community benefits from fracking profits.
Planning regulations, like fracking regulations, are there to protect citizens against abuse. Why do we stand idly, and culpably, by?
From: Glyn Wild, Highfield Terrace, Swinton, Malton.
THE CPRE has said that the Government’s announcement on pushing ahead with fracking amounts to an ‘outright assault on local communities’.
So who does the Government listen to on this issue? The majority of the people who don’t want it, the scientists who say it is potentially dangerous and does not address climate change – no it listens to a multi-billionaire who only wants to make even more money (mainly from plastics) despite the consequences.
By treating the drilling of wells as ‘permitted development’ (just as in a very small rear house extension), the Government is allowing the industry to drill wherever they please – in the field next to your house or your children’s school with no planning controls or thought for the community.
Stop this support for an unnecessary and potentially dangerous industry and invest in renewables now and create thousands of decent jobs.
Can our cities live on coffee?
From: David Craggs, Shafton Gate, Goldthorpe, Rotherham.
THE time is rapidly approaching when we the public will have to decide how we want to see our town and city centres develop.
Are we prepared to see them become little more that ‘ghost’ areas with very few shops, or no shops at all? There must surely be a limit to the number of ‘upmarket’ coffee bars they can support, and if they’re the only attraction would we bother visiting the centres at all?
There must also be a limit to the number of pound and charity shops they can support, so that leaves what we are seeing already... grafitti-covered rusting shutters.
We thought that Woolworths and BHS would last forever. They didn’t. Mothercare and Debenhams are struggling, and how long will we continue to see M&S on our high streets?
One thing is certain to me... if all our in-store shopping is done at the large out-of-town shopping areas, the first thing to go will be free parking.
And if we are eventually forced to do most of our shopping online because there are few conventional shops left, as sure as night follows day prices will rise, and free postage will go on both deliveries and ‘returns’.
At the moment the online customer is treated as someone ‘special’.
Don’t think for one moment that this will last. It won’t.
One answer would be to convert the empty premises into flats and encourage people to take up residence in our town and city centres, but would we really want to see this done on a large scale?
Risible claim about race
From: AJA Smith, Cowling, Keighley.
WRITING about Sajid Javid’s appointment as Home Secretary, Dr Mohammed Ali argues that Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are among those facing the most barriers to progress in the UK and much more must be done to assist them.
I find his claim to be risible as laws are in place to prevent any discrimination. In fact the reverse may be case as companies seek to be seen to be inclusive.
Too much of a good thing
From: Mrs J Thomas, Cuckstool Road, Denby Dale.
SIR Gary Verity, the Tour De Yorkshire is something special to Yorkshire people, the Spain thing (Vuelta a Espana) you are giving us is too much of a good thing. Don’t ram it down our throats – or we might lose interest in your bike races altogether and people will start complaining.