AN ATTEMPT by a Green Party county councillor to limit the potential for future fracking operations in Gloucestershire has failed.

Cllr Sarah Lunnon, who represents the Stroud central division, tabled a motion at a meeting of Gloucestershire County Council on Wednesday, November 20, calling on the authority to tighten regulations to make it harder for fracking companies to gain planning consent.

Her motion, which was seconded by Independent Cllr Mike Sztymiak, urged the council to amend its Mineral Local Plan to require any application for the extraction of hydrocarbons to ‘demonstrate the climate change impact of the extraction’.

The motion also said that mining operations should only be permitted in the county if it could be proved that they would not lead to higher levels of green house gases in the atmosphere.

Introducing the motion, Cllr Lunnon said the recent devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines was an example of the extreme weather events caused by climate change and that GCC had a responsibility to do all it could to limit the emissions arising within its jurisdiction.

With potential shale gas deposits in the Forest of Dean and at locations around the Cotswolds, Cllr Mike Sztymiak said he supported the motion because of the threat posed by climate change and because of a ‘danger of environmental concerns slipping down the political agenda’.

The leader of the Liberal Democrat group Colin Hay said he could not back the motion in its current form but his party would support a move to refer it to the council’s scrutiny committee.

However, fierce opposition from the Conservative benches put paid to the Lib Dem leader’s proposal and ultimately saw the motion emphatically defeated, with only three councillors voting in favour of it.

Tory Cllr Robert Bird blasted the motion as ‘worrying’ and ‘flawed’ and said it was born out of the ‘ill-conceived idealism of the comfortable classes’. The county’s residents should have the opportunity to potentially benefit from lower gas prices as a result of fracking, he said.

Conservative leader Mark Hawthorne was also scathing in his assessment of the motion, warning it would have unintended consequences and saying the council had more important issues to concentrate on, such as the ambulance service, road safety and child protection.

Cllr Hawthorne also said there was a ‘low-risk’ of fracking taking place in the county and that it was an issue for national policymakers, not county councillors.

But Cllr Lunnon responded with a blistering attack, accusing the council of lacking ‘political vision and courage’.

“The burning of fossil fuels is driving climate change and unless we seek steps to stop that we will be impacted by it very soon,” she said.