Labour hits out at council over fracking

Cllr Lesley Clarke
Cllr Lesley Clarke

The county council needs to tell residents more about its actions plans over the threat of fracking in Bucks, Labour has said.

The party said there has been a ‘deafening silence’ from the authority on the controversial process since a group was set up last year to look at the issue.

Lesley Clarke, cabinet member for the environment at the council, said it takes the possibility of fracking ‘very seriously’ and that a select committee has been ‘developing a detailed knowledge base about gas and oil exploration’.

Riaz Ahmed, Wycombe Labour’s chairman, said: “We need BCC to be on top of the job and make sure residents’ interests are protected against the interests of the oil companies, most of whom are foreign companies. We need to be clear what BCC’s policy is when it balances the risks of fracking with the benefits local authorities will get from increased business rates.”

A report to the environment, transport and locality services select committee, which was due to meet on Tuesday, said that because of the geology of the county, fracking for shale gas ‘remains unlikely’ in Bucks in the near future.

Mrs Clarke said the committee’s work will help the council produce a new policy for dealing with any applications for fracking in Bucks.

She said: “The county council is awaiting an announcement from the government later in 2014, when it is expected to undertake a further round of licensing for onshore oil and gas exploration, and will review whether any new licences may affect Buckinghamshire.”

There are currently no planning applications pending for fracking in Bucks.

The district council has also said fracking is unlikely to happen in the area.