I absolutely agree. The Minister has a difficult decision to make, because the planning system for shale gas simply cannot continue as it is. After various appeals, the planning process for Preston New Road and Roseacre has been going on for years. It is not good for local communities to have this hanging over them, nor does it favour local democracy, because the powerful can hire lawyers and basically game the system to suit them. The planning system in its current format must change and needs review, but permitted development is not the route to go down.
On the issue of local democracy, a lot of nonsense is talked when it comes to Lancashire County Council. It is said that Lancashire turned the Preston New Road site down and then Ministers forced it on them, but the reality is that planning officers at Lancashire County Council recommended that the site should go ahead on planning law grounds. Those people who were complaining about the Secretary of State giving Preston New Road permission to proceed cannot then celebrate when the same process refuses Roseacre Wood. The planning system sometimes give us what we want, and it sometimes gives us the opposite of what we want. I am afraid that we cannot trim our argument to suit our case.