THE leader of Cheshire East Council was forced to make a U-turn on his ‘no fracking’ pledge last night, 24 hours after announcing it would not take place in the borough.
Council leader Michael Jones announced on Monday that fracking was ‘not right’ for Cheshire East, but told Tuesday’s BBC North West Tonight he was not able to stop it.
He told the programme there were no suitable sites in the borough, that fracking was unnecessary and that the council favoured geothermal exploration.
As councillors are not allowed to pre-determine planning applications, if a fracking application meets the council's planning policies and all necessary safeguards are in place they will have to pass it.
“Clr Jones has a habit of going round the Borough spreading promises like confetti that he knows he can't keep,” said Willaston and Rope Ward UKIP councillor Brian Silvester.
“He tells people what he thinks they want to hear, even though what he promises them is totally unrealistic.”
Clr Silvester said the council’s director of economic growth and prosperity, Caroline Simpson, informed him any planning application for fracking will have to be reviewed against planning policies.
“The Council can't pull up the drawbridge and say they will not accept any applications for fracking,” he added.
“If companies want to invest in the borough and create jobs and prosperity he should not be closing the door on them before there is an opportunity to consider what is being proposed.
“The interests of local communities need to be protected but you do not do that by making empty promises which it is obvious cannot be delivered on."
Independent Cheshire East councillor for Shavington, Clr David Brickhill, believes there will be suitable fracking sites in the borough.
“It appears to me that, on this occasion, Clr Jones just went fracking crazy,” he said.
“As to there not being any suitable oil or gas yielding shale deposits under any part of Cheshire East, I believe this too will be proved to be incorrect and the council spokesperson will have to do another U-turn.
“Could Lindow Moss turn out to be as productive as Barton Moss a few miles north? Has it too got shale beneath it?”