The Executive are asked to consider the motion on fracking activities for oil or gas in North Yorkshire referred by County Council and make recommendations for County Council’s consideration on 22 February 2023.
Considered – A report of the Assistant Chief Executive (Legal and Democratic Services) presenting information to support the consideration of a motion regarding fracking activities for oil or gas in North Yorkshire, referred by County Council at their meeting on 16 November 2022.
County Councillor Greg White introduced the report which detailed the Current Government position on Fracking i.e. a total moratorium on fracking in England at this time and confirmed there were no planning applications for fracking in North Yorkshire. He also referenced the robust Waste & Minerals Plan currently in place for North Yorkshire, which provided a high level of protection to residents against the unlikely event of government policy changing.
He went on to confirm that the Motion under consideration would not improve or strengthen that protection. Instead, he expressed concern that if the Authority were to pass the Motion, the existing conditions and protections arising from the Waste & Minerals Plan would be put in jeopardy, as anyone seeking a license to undertake fracking works could claim the Authority and its members were not considering their application with an open mind. He therefore suggested the only sensible response from the Executive would be to reject the Motion and preserve the protections already in place.
County Councillor Bryn Griffiths, proposer of the Motion, drew attention to the incorrect versions of the Motion published within the agenda for the meeting and confirmed they had been superseded by a combined Motion which had been circulated to Executive Members prior to the meeting. He went on to read out the combined Motion and queried whether the officer report written in response to the original two Motions properly addressed the combined version and suggested the Motion should be deferred to a later Council meeting.
County Councillor Arnold Warneken suggested everyone in North Yorkshire should be encouraged to take on board how serious the Authority was about its commitment to climate change and this message could be reinforced by a clear statement from the Authority that fracking was inappropriate given that it was the most polluting of fossil fuel extraction methods.
Barry Khan, Assistant Chief Executive (Legal & Democratic Services) confirmed there was no reason to defer consideration of the Motion to a later Council meeting. He also expressed concern that members of a planning committee in the future may be open to an argument of pre-determination, should the proposal within the Motion be agreed by Full Council. It was noted that should the Motion be agreed, there was a heightened risk of losing an appeal on the refusal of a fracking application in the future.
County Councillor Andy Brown argued that it would be quite reasonable for a Councillor to state a political position that fracking was damaging for the environment, and then to sit on a planning committee and consider the evidence put forward that it was not.
Having considered the views expressed at the meeting, the Executive voted unanimously and it was
Resolved – That it be recommended to County Council that ... view the full minutes text for item 180