Lee Rowley says many colleagues have concerns as opposition builds to loosening of planning rules
'A growing number of Tory MPs are turning against fracking, according to one MP with a drilling site in his constituency.
Lee Rowley, who chairs the new all-party parliamentary group looking into the impact of shale gas, told the Guardian he was seeing increasing numbers of colleagues with worries about hydraulic fracturing.
“I think there are more Conservative MPs than perhaps assumed who have concerns about this,” said Rowley, who became the first Conservative MP for North East Derbyshire for 80 years when he won the seat from Labour in 2015. “There are more and more colleagues who are coming up to me and saying, ‘I have concerns about this and I have concerns about the policies.’
“A lot of colleagues start from the position as I did a few months ago: that we have to have a sensible energy policy and we have to look at all options and see what we can do. But when they go through the detail many are coming to the conclusion that fracking is probably not the way forward,” he said.
Earlier this week the Tory MP Zac Goldsmith warned that fracking had “the potential to turn whole regions against the government”.
Twenty-one Tory MPs have attended two recent parliamentary debates about the government’s proposals. Ministers want to fast-track planning applications by declaring shale gas wells nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIP) and “permitted developments” on a par with home extensions, allowing them to bypass local planners.
Read more: 'More and more' Tories turning against fracking, says MP