Welsh Government still opposed to fracking, minister tells councils

The Welsh Minister for Natural Resources, Carl Sargeant, has written to local authorities in Wales to remind them of his government’s moratorium on fracking.

The move follows last week’s announcement by UK Energy Secretary Amber Rudd that councils in England are to fast track fracking applications.

Ms Rudd also warned any local authorities that do not meet the 16-week timeframe also risk losing the right to make further decisions, which could be determined by the UK Communities Secretary instead.

In his letter to Welsh councils, Mr Sargeant assured local authorities that these measures were applicable to English councils only.

He also reiterated the Welsh Government’s preference for renewable forms of generation over oil and gas exploration.

“We continue to believe that the technologies behind hydraulic fracturing are unproven and therefore we have maintained our precautionary policy framework in respect of proposals involving “fracking”, that is why we imposed a moratorium,” said Mr Sargeant.

“Our vision for future energy generation is based on embracing Wales’ abundant renewable energy resources which provide exciting and immediate opportunities. Wales is a green and clever land and we want to ensure, in accordance with the principles set out in the ground-breaking Well-being of Future Generations Act, that we address the issue of climate change immediately through the effective deployment of renewable energy technologies.

“The Welsh Government is determined to show leadership in addressing the causes of climate change. Despite recent announcements in England, we still see renewable energy as a key element in ensuring that Wales achieves sustainable development for the benefit of future generations. Local planning authorities must ensure that planning applications are determined within statutory timescales.

“Measures announced today by DECC, and the UK Government’s general support for oil and gas applications is contrary to the approach of the Welsh Government of promoting renewable and low carbon forms of energy through the planning system and other measures. We still see renewable energy as a key element in ensuring that Wales achieves sustainable development for the benefit of future generations. Local planning authorities must ensure that planning applications for renewable energy projects are determined within statutory timescales.”

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues