Government proposals to change the planning system to speed up shale gas exploration are coming under mounting scrutiny.

The proposals include granting permitted development rights to exploration well sites and deciding on shale gas production plans in Whitehall rather than locally.

The plans would have a significant impact on the ability of Yorkshire residents to air their concerns and for locally elected councillors to have the final say on planning applications. Around 40% of Yorkshire is covered by Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences.

A recent Parliamentary debate saw local MPs from across the political spectrum voice their concerns on what these changes would mean for the level of scrutiny of the industry and for the spirit of local democratic decision-making.

Earlier this month, Rotherham Council refused planning permission to INEOS for a shale gas exploration well near Woodsetts which would see up to 60 HGVs a day moving plant, equipment and materials 50 metres away from sheltered housing for vulnerable elderly residents for a period of 9 months. Under the Government’s proposals, INEOS would be able to carry out this work without having to apply for planning permission.