Fracking industry bosses have been grilled by a Cheshire MP.
Mike Amesbury (Lab, Weaver Vale) was raising proposed changes to planning laws which could see fracking forced on local communities against their wishes.
He argues that companies such as Ineos already have permission to explore for shale gas across large swathes of Cheshire.
The MP was recently branded a ‘Nimby’ by senior conservative minister Liz Truss when he raised the issue of a farmer in his constituency who allegedly had representatives of Ineos show up on her land with a view to exploring for shale deposits during Prime Minister’s Questions.
Theresa May and the Tory government are staunchly pro-fracking he believes and reforms to planning currently being considered could see new fracking applications decided at national level rather than by elected councillors.
As a member of the communities and local government select committee at Westminster Mr Amesbury, a longstanding opponent of fracking, quizzed industry bosses including Ken Cronin, chief executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas, Matt Lambert, director of government and public affairs at Cuadrilla and Lynn Calder, commercial director at INEOS Shale.
Addressing Ms Calder, he said: “As somebody opposed to fracking how would you convince me that planning decisions should have more emphasis on national policy rather than be informed by local planning authorities.”
She replied that from the industry’s perspective planning delays were ‘unacceptable’ but added: “We’ve never sought to have these decisions taken out of the hands of local communities, we believe they should be taken by local communities,” according to Mr Amesbury.
Speaking outside the Commons the MP added: “Fracking is a huge issue in my constituency and beyond.
“The danger here is that a pro-fracking administration in Westminster sets the tone for these projects being imposed on communities which simply don’t want them, completely overriding the decisions of elected representatives.”
He pointed out: “Fracking has been banned in many countries now including Germany, France, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland.
“It is destructive to the environment and can potentially contaminate the water supply.”