An Update on the Joint Minerals and Waste Plan

The Joint Minerals and Waste Plan (JMWP) is a document being produced by City of York Council, North Yorkshire County Council and North York Moors National Park. The JMWP is importnat becuase it will govern how planning decisions on minerals, including gas drilling and fracking, and waste, including gas industry waste water disposal, will be decided.

The JMWP is expected to come into force next year after being accepted by all three local authorities involved in making it and by the government’s planning inspector. However before this happens there will be a final round of public consultation on it starting in November, or December. Frack Free York will put a guide to the consultation on this website when the consultation period opens.

In preparation for this consultation a new draft of the JMWP has been produced and is available here under agenda item 8.

Kit Bennett, Chair of Frack Free York spoke to City of York Council’s Local Plan Working Group on 10 October and their Executive on 13 October. He pointed out that although there are some welcome changes in the draft JMWP, such as the protection of a wide variety of designated sites from surface oil and gas development, the provision of buffer zones separating gas development from National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and homes and greater consideration to the impact of oil and gas industry waste water, there is still a lot that needs to be done to improve the JMWP and protect North Yorkshire from the impacts of fracking. In particular he argued that buffer zones, in particular those around hoems should be further extended, that oil and gas development that compromises climate change targets should not be permitted and that the preacautionary principle should be applied to the threat fracking presents to clean water.

In response to these points, officers of City of York Council, produced this report (pdf). Although the report does address some concerns on buffer zones, it does not go far enough, in particular, the report recommends buffer zones of only 500 metres between gas wells and homes. It remains to be seen if the reports recommendations will be adopted in the JMWP.

Kit took part in a another meeting with Andrew Waller, City of York Council’s Executive Member for the Environment on 19 October along with members of Frack Free Ryedale and representatives of Friends of the Earth, to discuss the issues that remain with the draft JMWP and the report.

Although discussion on the JMWP focuses on buffer zones and measures to subject planning applications for oil and gas development to more rigorous scrutiny, Frack Free York remains opposed to all fracking and all unconventional oil and gas development, whether or not it falls within any buffer zones that may be finally agreed. Frack free York will object to all planning applications for unconventional gas development in the plan area and will continue to fignt against fracking in every way it can.

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