CONSERVATIVE councillors in York have opposed Government plans to speed up the planning process for fracking.

The Conservative group replied to a national consultation on the issue, calling the plans "wholly inappropriate" and saying they may "damage residents' confidence" in the planning system.

The Government is currently consulting on whether permitted development rights, which are used to grant planning permission for one-off locations, should be used for applications for shale gas exploration, also known as fracking.

Cllr Paul Doughty, Conservative councillor for Strensall ward, said York Conservatives are against proposals that would allow developers to get around the usual planning processes.

He said: “I welcome our group taking this position. We believe that applying permitted development rights to large-scale processes such as fracking is just wrong.

"Whatever the potential benefits to the UK economy from shale gas extraction, which we acknowledge could be considerable, allowing developers to circumvent the usual planning process is not the way to go about it.

“Removing such a controversial form of development from the usual planning regime, even with safeguards, would in our opinion severely undermine trust in the planning process.

“Also, at a time when the Government is facilitating more local autonomy through devolution and the Northern Powerhouse programme we find it somewhat contradictory for central government to try to claw back important decision-making powers regarding a planning issue which has very local implications.”