Council bosses have admitted that public concerns over fracking could have an impact on development plans in East Dunbartonshire.
Thomas Glen, East Dunbartonshire Council’s director of development and regeneration, said that even though the council had yet to receive any enquiries or planning applications related to the controversial mining technique, it planned to take residents’ concerns into account.
He said: “During the Scottish Government’s recent review of planning policy in Scotland, East Dunbartonshire’s Development and Regeneration Committee submitted views noting that there is widespread public concern about the potential impact of fracking on both the environment and human health.
“Its report stated that until fracking technology has been further examined and tested, the council is likely to resist proposals.”
Mr Glen added that it was probable that the council would continue with this ‘cautious approach’ in its next Local Development Plan, which outlines the future consideration of planning applications and development in the area.
In spite of the council’s intentions, the contentious issue of fracking has set alarm bells ringing throughout East Dunbartonshire. Scores of residents have come together to form community protest groups, with several public meetings taking place over the next week.
Protest group Don’t Frack the ‘Briggs has invited local politicians to face residents at its public meeting at 7pm on Wednesday, November 19 in Bishopbriggs Academy.
Members of Bearsden West Community Council (BWCC) discussed the issue at their meeting on Wednesday, October 29, and they were unanimous in their support for the residents in Bishopbriggs and Kirkintilloch who are fighting against the possibility of fracking taking place in their areas.
Robert Paterson, secretary of BWCC said: “Many people feel strongly about this as without doubt it will have an impact on our environment.”
Gordon Cox, chair of Bearsden North Community Council, said: “Whilst we are not aware of any proposals in Bearsden North we are obviously concerned for the wider East Dunbartonshire area and beyond. We are aware of environmental concerns elsewhere in the world where this technology is currently used and in particular the risks to ground water and aquifers.”
The East Dunbartonshire Local Development Plan is currently under review and the Main Issues Report has been widely circulated.
Bearsden North Community Council wants the council to introduce a policy on unconventional gas developments and include it in the new plan.
Mr Cox added: “Any proposals to explore for gas will require planning permission which will be the responsibility of the planning board to determine. Consequently a policy to guide those decisions is required.
“We call upon our local councillors to listen to their communities’ views on this matter and then instruct officers to draw up a policy for inclusion in the plan.
“Finally, the Westminster Government apparently sold licences for exploration for unconventional gas in Scotland without consulting the Scottish Parliament, which seems at best discourteous.”
Milngavie Community Council (MCC) chairperson Callum Christie, said: “At our meeting last week an East Dunbartonshire Council officer told us that the council currently has no policy on fracking.
“MCC has agreed to ask EDC to include a clear line of policy that opposes fracking activity in East Dunbartonshire in the draft for the Local Development Plan.”