Leigh MP says he "does not trust Wigan Council to make the right decision" on fracking

Leigh’s MP James Grundy said he “does not trust Wigan Council to make the right decisions” when it comes to fracking during a heated debate.
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The Conservative representative addressed the House of Commons with an empassioned speech to try to secure support for his plan to prevent local authorities having the final say on the matter.

Wigan Council opposes fracking within the borough.

Mr Grundy claimed his plan would look like a mini-referendum in the communities put forward as potential fracking sites.

Leigh MP James GrundyLeigh MP James Grundy
Leigh MP James Grundy
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He said councils should not be “hornswoggling local communities in this way” by “trampling local rights”.

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In a statement posted to social media, Mr Grundy later reiterated his view.

He said: “Yesterday I spoke about my concerns in the debate on fracking in the Commons.

Coun David Molyneux. Leader of Wigan CouncilCoun David Molyneux. Leader of Wigan Council
Coun David Molyneux. Leader of Wigan Council

“I have worked with other Conservative backbenchers to help secure a local veto on fracking that would prevent local authorities from forcing planning applications for fracking on communities that were opposed to it.

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"The Government will now engage in a consultation, then set out the details of that community veto power, likely to be a referendum.

“I have been very clear that the final veto power on fracking must lie with local communities, and councils such as Wigan Metro must never be able to overrule them.

"I don’t trust Wigan Council to make the right decisions on fracking, but I do trust local people, and I will back them where they oppose it.”

In his speech, he also claimed that Wigan Council, controlled by Labour, is unwilling to listen to objectors despite their numbers being in the thousands.

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He alluded to unpopular planning application processes currently ongoing in his constituency.

Leader Coun David Molyneux stated the council’s position on fracking at the last full council meeting on September 28.

He said: “I think we have stated on many occasions within this council, and I am going to reiterate it tonight.

"We will oppose any fracking applications on land which belongs to this authority.

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“We are certainly not going to sit back and allow fracking to take place on any land that we control.

"The areas of search that we saw some years ago for fracking cover many parts of this borough, and can I ask you to remind yourselves of the objections of people across the country in terms of what fracking could cause to our environment and to our communities.

"Please bear that in mind and can I plead to Conservative colleagues should you go to conference next week could you please emphasise the issues and concerns that people have across certainly the north of England where fracking may take place.”

After Mr Grundy’s speech in Parliament, the Labour Party tabled a motion to ban fracking which was largely seen as a “confidence vote” for the government at the time.

Mr Grundy was one of 326 members that voted against the motion.