Conservative MP says drilling and pollution are ‘alarming prospect’ for communities
'Zac Goldsmith has warned ministers that their plans to fast-track fracking risk turning whole regions of the country against the Conservatives and igniting a political backlash.
The Tory MP for Richmond said people had legitimate concerns about fracking and that government proposals to bypass local planning decisions on shale gas wells were a mistake.
“Fracking is an issue that has the potential to turn whole regions against the government,” he told the Guardian. “The drilling rigs and pollution, the industrial equipment and sheer volume of trucks all make it an alarming prospect for communities up and down the country.”
Some Tory MPs have been angered by the mooted planning changes, which would allow shale gas wells to be drilled without the need for planning permission and class fracking sites as nationally significant infrastructure. “If the government’s answer is simply to change the planning rules so that even elected local representatives have no say on the issue, then it will have to be prepared for a huge backlash,” Goldsmith said.
Fracking near Blackpool has caused two minor earthquakes in 24 hours. The shale company Cuadrilla was forced to halt operations for 18 hours on Friday after a 0.8-magnitude tremor, and operations that restarted on Saturday morning triggered a second tremor. Saturday’s tremor is the 18th in the area since fracking recommenced 12 days ago at the UK’s only active site. It was too small to be felt above ground and was not categorised as a “red” event by the Oil and Gas Authority, unlike the tremor on Friday, because it occurred after operations had finished.'
Read more: Fracking risks turning country against Tories, says Zac Goldsmith