Friday, 29 July 2016

CWaC Labour's flip flop on fracking

You couldn't make it up.

The CWaC Labour manifesto on which they were elected in May 2015 said they would introduce a moratorium on fracking if they were elected.

Having made that promise to the Borough's electorate and having narrowly won power the ruling Labour Group had the embarrassment of the Borough Council's Monitoring Officer telling them that it would be unlawful for such a policy to be adopted by the council.

If that wasn't bad enough the council's cabinet has just approved for public consultation Part II of the draft local plan.  It is this part of the plan that contains the policies that will regulate exploration and extraction of novel hydrocarbons (including by fracking).

When the policies were debated in draft at the Local Plan Working Group I argued strongly that the policies proposed were not strong enough.  I wanted to see explicit protection of the environment written into the policies - and crucially a policy that explicitly sought out and gave the local community the decisive say when it came to deciding whether such developments should go ahead.

Well, whilst the officers did take on board some of my concerns - and they did amend the draft policies and strengthen them somewhat, but they did not, in my view go far enough.

When the draft policies were considered by the Cabinet on 20 July I pointed out Labour's fracking moratorium embarrassment, how their original draft policies had been partially strengthened by my amendments - but that they had not gone far enough.  I suggested to them that they should have courage - and reject that aspect of the draft plan.

So did they rise to the occasion?  Did they reject this aspect of the draft plan?

They decided to go out for 6 weeks public consultation - almost certainly over the summer when many of us will be going away and when many town and parish councils don't have meetings.

A good time to bury bad news perhaps?

If you'd like to see what happened at the Cabinet on 20 July you can find the video on the council's website following this link 

Just scroll down to item 9 and watch.  Item 9 is about more than fracking by the way!