Permitted Development and Shale Gas Exploration

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:41 pm on 28th March 2019.

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Photo of Mark Menzies Mark Menzies Conservative, Fylde 3:41 pm, 28th March 2019

Absolutely. Time is against me, so I will not give way again.

It is important that the Secretary of State bears in mind the concerns raised by local communities and Members such as me, and that we work together in a constructive way to ensure that permitted development is taken off the table, because it is not a sensible route to go down. The planning system must be reformed to ensure that there are consistent and transparent opportunities for input from local communities, that the process does not drag on for years and create a shadow over parts of our countryside, and that we give planning guidelines on what a suitable site looks like and what sites people should not frankly waste their breath considering.

I want us to move towards a situation where renewables provide the overwhelming majority of electricity output, alongside a contribution from nuclear. Until we get some movement on battery technology and other forms of the next stage of renewables, gas will play a part. On the cold day in February when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine, gas does not play a part. Shale gas can only play a part if we can say hand on heart that it is done safely, that it has robust regulation and that it is taking communities with it, not being done to them.

I call on the Government to continue the work that has been done. Let us celebrate the huge amount of positive change that has taken place as a result of listening to concerns from Members such as me and ensure that permitted development is not a tool that the shale gas industry can deploy as part of the planning process.