Fracking to be allowed under national parks

Amber Rudd. MP for Hastings and Rye.
Amber Rudd. MP for Hastings and Rye.

Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd has said the new government will loosen rules to allow fracking in national parks.

Ms Rudd, who was appointed as the new secretary of state for energy and climate change last week, confirmed the Conservative government will kick-start a shale-gas revolution, allowing it to be extracted from national parks.

The infrastructure bill, passed in February to the dismay of many environmental groups and those living in national parks, opened the door for potential fracking under parks and the backing of the new Tory minister looks set to make this happen.

Speaking in an interview with The Sunday Times, Ms Rudd said: “With a Conservative majority, I believe we’ll be able to deliver shale, as we’ve always wanted to do, in a safe but beneficial way.”

As well as this, Ms Rudd has come forward with an insistence that local communities are involved in the decision-making process for onshore wind farms.

In her interview with the national newspaper, she insisted she had “put a rocket” under her officials to “put the local community back in charge” of their own neighbourhoods.

Under current planning rules, onshore wind farms are handled by a central government department which has powers to over-ride the wishes of local people.

However, the new powers – which Ms Rudd hopes to fast-track in order for them to be inplace by this time next year – will hand these powers to local councils, which in turn will have to consult residents first.

The move will mean residents will be able to block all future onshore wind farms if they wish to do so.

Speaking to the The Sunday Times, Ms Rudd said she didn’t see wind farms as eyesores and liked to look at them, but recognised their location was deeply divisive, with local people battling against them.

She said: “It will mean no more onshore wind farm subsidies and no more onshore wind farms without local community support.

“This is really important. I’ve already got my team working on it. That’s going to be one of the first things we’re going to do.

“I’ve put a rocket under the team to get it done, putting the local community back in charge. We’re looking to do the primary legislation as soon as we can.

“Local planning authorities combined with no new subsidies will put local people in charge – there will be a much more accountable democratic process.”