DECC yesterday published planning policy which effectively lowers the bar for planning applications for fracking in England.

The announcement describes the importance of shale gas, and the ‘urgent’ need to expedite planning applications. To this end, local authorities which do not determine planning applications within the prescribed 16 week period will risk having the decision-making capacity taken from them and given to the Secretary of State. Appeals against refusals for planning permission are likewise categorised as ‘urgent’ in terms of resolution.

The inference for local authorities seems to be; consent fracking projects or the UK Government will step in and do so on your behalf.Fracking

This should be contrasted with their planning policy for onshore wind – again for England only – which requires planning applications to jump through additional, vaguely-worded hoops, which make positive outcomes even more unlikely than the previous planning regime.

So England’s planning policy is to expedite the extraction of fossil fuels which should best be left in the ground, according to the Environmental Audit Committee; whilst simultaneously putting a halt to the most cost-effective form of clean, renewable energy.

A double standard is the application of different sets of principles for similar situations. A double standard may take the form of an instance in which certain concepts are perceived as acceptable to be applied by one group of people, but are considered unacceptable when applied by another group.

In stark contrast to the double standards being promoted by Ministers at DECC, Welsh Government exemplifies responsibility to our future generations.

In a letter published today, Carl Sargeant, the Minister for Natural Resources, sets out the priority to embrace Wales’ ‘abundant renewable energy resources’, with onshore wind being an important component of those resources. He also describes the approach of Welsh Government to fracking as being ‘precautionary’, and highlights the need to address the issue of climate change.

Carl Sargeant

Carl Sargeant, demonstrating responsible leadership in energy policy

The devolution of planning policy to Wales shows how important politics has been to providing two very different visions of the future for energy in the UK.

David Clubb, Director of RenewableUK Cymru, said:

“We welcome the positive vision of energy set out by Welsh Government, and we wholeheartedly endorse the emphasis on responsible development of our renewable energy resource.

“Once again we see that, when it comes to prioritising the welfare of our future generations and those whose lives are likely to be affected by climate change, it is the Welsh Government that is leading, and the UK Government who are heading backwards.”