Following a number of constituents who have contacted me recently about concerns over fracking, I wanted to let you know that I have questioned the Minister for Energy and Climate Change about these concerns, specifically with reference to Bradford on Avon and the surrounding area.

The Minister’s answer was particularly helpful and I have shared it with both the Town and Wiltshire Council and the important local campaign group Climate Friendly Bradford on Avon.

The question I asked was:

Michelle Donelan: “Does the Minister agree with me that historic market towns, that were built for the horse and cart, such as Bradford on Avon in my constituency, could not cope [with fracking] because of the infrastructure to deal with the extra traffic that fracking would bring along?”

And the Minister’s helpful reply:

Andrea Leadsom MP (Minister for Energy and Climate Change): “I think that is absolutely one of the factors that any local authority planning committee will take into account and that is precisely the point about having the local authority involvement with it and the community say, because, of course, local people know best what is suitable for their area. But never the less, the local planning aspect is one aspect of it; the health and safety and the Environment Agency so the whole safety regulatory environment is absolutely vital to this. And, I can assure her [Michelle Donelan] that there will be no compromise on either safety, or the local community’s views”  

Unfortunately, there seems to have been some scaremongering that surrounds the issue and I want more clarification of what steps the Government is putting in place to protect local communities.

I do not think that there is any perceivable way that shale gas extraction (fracking) will happen in or around Bradford on Avon. The Minister’s answer categorically confirms this. Not only is Bradford on Avon such an historic town there are such significant issues around congestion, which Ministers are very aware of because of my discussions in Parliament, I cannot see a way that planning permission would be given for any site in the town.

I am a firm believer in local democracy, putting more power in the hands of local people to shape their community. The only way that fracking will get permission anywhere is with local consent and I cannot see that being likely in Bradford on Avon.

If any application was put forward, rest assured that I would vehemently oppose it, but I do not think that one will be.