By Laura Beans
According to Friends of the Earth (FOE), the UK government plans to end people’s right to be notified about plans to drill for gas and oil beneath their homes and on their land, amongst other changes in the law for onshore oil and gas planning applications.
“It’s little wonder communities don’t trust the Government over fracking when their rights are so clearly being bulldozed aside to smooth the path for the big fracking firms,” said Andrew Pendleton, head of campaigns for FOE.
The news of the changing law is coupled with the announcement today that Cuadrilla has withdrawn its application to extend the time in which it can drill for oil in Balcombe, according to Greenpeace. It has instead decided to “reassess our programme and, in turn, the terms of our current planning application.”
“They [Cuadrilla] only recently submitted an application to extend the drilling window, now they’ve already withdrawn it and admitted they’re reassessing the programme,” said Leila Deen, energy campaigner for Greenpeace.
“It’s not yet clear if this is a shift of direction or if the company merely got its sums wrong. Either way, the local council has the opportunity to revisit its previous highly controversial decision to give Cuadrilla the green light in Balcombe. The poster boy for fracking looks like it’s in trouble again.”
Earlier this year, after legal concerns raised by FOE were submitted to the Environment Agency, Cuadrilla was forced to obtain mining waste and radioactive substances permits before carrying out test drilling at Balcombe.
“We’re delighted this flawed application has been withdrawn and that people will be properly notified of the extent of the planned drilling,” said Pendleton. “But the majority of Balcombe residents won’t be happy until Cuadrilla abandons its plans altogether.”
This summer, the UK government announced a proposed 50 percent tax cut for companies involved in shale gas extraction—cutting the tax on income generated from shale gas production from 62 percent to just 30 percent.
In July, peaceful protests broke out at the exploratory drill site in Balcombe, Sussex, south of London, halting the first day of drilling by the fracking company Cuadrilla. Anti-fracking activists and community members have continued courageous displays of direct action, strengthening a collective voice adamantly opposed to the controversial process.
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