On Monday (26th January), the Department for Energy and Climate Change announced the commitment of the government to an outright ban on fracking in National Parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The government’s original policy on fracking included guidance that local planning authorities should refuse planning applications for major development in these areas unless it can be demonstrated both that exceptional circumstances exist and that it is in the public interest.
The wording ‘exceptional circumstances’ has now been removed from the policy, which provides more certainty within the policy for planning authorities.
Councillor Julia Baker-Smith, chair of the planning committee, said:
“I was always uncomfortable with how ‘exceptional circumstances’ was defined under the previous policy, which left sensitive areas open to applications. This recent clarification from the government is most welcome and provides security for the Island’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.”
Executive member for planning and licensing, Councillor Paul Fuller, said:
“The council has a robust set of policies to deal with fracking applications which give good protection to the Island, however this announcement from the government gives even more protection to our Island, large parts of which are designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”