Shale Gas Development

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:30 pm on 31st October 2018.

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Photo of Mark Menzies Mark Menzies Conservative, Fylde 4:30 pm, 31st October 2018

I will give way in one moment, but I will just make some more progress on permitted development.

As we know, permitted development rights are most commonly used to simplify and speed up minor planning processes around such issues as small property extensions or the change of use of property. Indeed, I was a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Department for Communities and Local Government, as it was then, at a time when we looked to relax permitted development rights on home extensions and conservatories, and even then the Department had to row back from its original proposals because even with changes on that scale, particularly in urban areas, the impact was there for all to see.

What permitted development rights are not suitable for are new and substantial developments, especially those that have significant and ongoing operational activities associated with them. As the Minister knows, I have extensive knowledge of shale gas development, with the first horizontal wells in the UK within my constituency. These are not small or straightforward developments by any means. They are major industrial sites that require the construction of substantial infrastructure to set up and countless vehicle movements to operate. Indeed, if you will indulge me, Mr Hollobone, I will go through some examples.

I will take the site on Preston New Road first. We have got thousands of tonnes of hardcore piled on top of double-layered polyurethane membranes; big trenches dug around a site that is up to 2 hectares; a 30-metre drilling rig; a 2-metre high perimeter fence; 4.8-metre high bunding and fencing; several cabins that are 3 metres in height; acoustic screening of 5 metres in height; a lighting rig of 9 metres in height; a 2.9-metre high-powered generator; two water tanks that are 3 metres in height; a 10-metre high emergency vent; an access road off a busy main road; and I could go on. Now, who on earth thinks that is equivalent to building a little extension on the side of your bungalow? It is not.