York & North Yorkshire’s Minerals Plan: last few days to respond
The latest phase of consultation on the Joint Minerals and Waste Plan for the City of York, North Yorkshire and the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, who together make up our local Minerals Planning Authority, closes this Friday (11 April) at 5pm.
At this stage the consultation is putting out for responses to a number of ‘issues and options’ including shale gas, coal bed methane and underground coal gasification – all methods of extreme energy extraction.
For all those who are concerned about the impacts of extreme energy extraction, this consultation represents a massive opportunity to influence the planning framework. The final Minerals and Waste Plan and the policies it contains will be the benchmark by which any future planning applications for fracking and unconventional gas in our area will be accepted or rejected. If we can prevent (or at least make as difficult as possible) the approval of planning applications for exploration or development sites, this will put a significant barrier in the path of the UK fracking industry.
Have your say! The plan document for consultation is a mammoth 368 pages long, but the key questions to respond to on fracking are questions 70 and 71 (chapter 5, sections 5.124 and 5.136). We think that the options presented do not go far enough, and the plan should incorporate a policy against fracking within the plan area, at least until a regulatory framework is in place that can guarantee:
- no fugitive emissions of uncaptured natural gas (see this review of impacts in the US)
- no pollution of groundwater – requiring a full 3D geological survey
- a safe and suitable disposal regime for flowback – the polluted fluids which emerge from the well after fracking has taken place (see this excellent article on fracking and water pollution)
- the long-term monitoring, maintenance and decommissioning of wells.
We would encourage policy that required Environmental Impact Assessments as standard, the application of the precautionary principle and the setting of the site boundaries in 3-D (thereby extending the site boundary in the case of horizontal drilling).
The whole document is very vague about unconventional gas. After you have responded to the specific questions 70 and 71, make as much use as you can of the response form’s invitation to Further Comments.
The consultation document is here: http://www.northyorks.gov.uk/mwconsult. Thanks to Friends of the Earth for their input to the above advice.