Leading county councillor cautiously welcomes fracking in Lincolnshire

A leading Lincolnshire county councillor has opened the door to the possibility of fracking in the county.

Councillor Colin Davie, portfolio holder for the environment at Lincolnshire County Council, stressed that all environmental safeguards must be in place before an application could be granted.

However, he told The Lincolnite that Lincolnshire had to play its part in contributing to the national energy supply.

He said: “Lincoln is one of those parts of the country which has very little capacity in its electricity grid. We need to solve that for the future otherwise we will not get all this investment and new hotels because we will not be able to connect them to the grid.

Fracking does have a part to play but I do not think it’s the panacea that some people hold it up to be. I certainly do not think it will make the contribution that it has made in America.

“It’s a small part of a mixed basket of energy measures – it is not the big answer.”

As previously reported, the government awarded a raft of new licences to energy companies to explore for oil and gas in parts of Lincolnshire back in December 2015.

Developers must apply for planning permission and environmental permits, with local communities then consulted on the plans.

The blocks of land awarded are around 10km by 10km and the new sites for Lincolnshire were:

  • The coastal areas of the county and the Wolds
  • Wickenby, Wragby and Bucknall
  • Areas north of Saxilby
  • Villages in the east and south of Lincoln including Branston, Metheringham and Bracebridge Heath

At this stage, Councillor Davie confirmed that no fracking applications were close to being made in Lincolnshire.

Shale gas ‘bribes’

The county councillor also expressed his unease at Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement that people who live near sites used for shale gas exploration would be given cash payments so that they benefit from the developments

Communities near fracking sites have raised concerns that such developments would lead to a fall in house prices, and a significant blight on the local environment.

Councillor Davie said: “I’m always very nervous about cash incentives around planning applications. There should be a community pot quite clearly on these kind of big, controversial applications.

“But I think just paying each household a block of money feels a bit like bribery to me.”

Watch the full interview with Councillor Davie below for more discussions about Brexit, devolution and fracking.