BURY’S Labour group is urging the government to withdraw proposals it claims would allow frackers to do “untold damage” in the borough.

The government is currently holding a consultation on whether energy companies should be able to explore for shale gas without first seeking planning permission from local authorities.

Under the proposals, approval to carry out the investigatory work would be granted under “permitted development” rights — which allow for the likes of small extensions to be automatically approved.

These explorations would not be authorised to deploy hydraulic fracturing – or fracking - a process which involves directing a high pressure mixture of water and chemicals at shale rocks to release the gas contained inside them.

But a second consultation arguably goes further. It proposes taking decision making powers over the extraction of shale gas away from authorities, and instead including it within the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project regime - which ruled on the controversial high-speed rail initiative such as HS2.

The government says there could be substantial benefits from the safe and sustainable exploration and development of our onshore shale gas resources.

And it believes it could work with the fracking industry to create a “UK model” which would be the world’s most environmentally robust system.

But opponents of fracking link the controversial process with earth tremors as well as air and water pollution.

And leader Cllr Rishi Shori says he fears an army of frackers could descend on Bury if the proposals are given the go-ahead.

He said: “If both these proposals were to be accepted it would be outrageous. They would undermine local democracy, denying politicians and local residents alike the ability to properly scrutinise activity which could have a detrimental impact on our communities. A democratic deficit will be created in an already loosely regulated field.

“Bearing in mind that there are fracking licences which cover almost the entirety of this borough, there is a very real danger that fracking will take place in the short-term with local politicians having no say whatsoever on as issue which could affect our local environment our local economy and the health of our residents. We need to stand up for our them. We cannot allow the industrialisation of our countryside."

Bury Council voted to ban fracking on land it owns in July 2016.

But Cllr Shori fears the rest of the borough could soon be up for grabs.

He said: "Bury's Labour council has already taken bold action to ban fracking on council owned land, back in July 2016, but it cannot stop fracking in other parts of the borough.

“The proposals from this Conservative government effectively removes any local ability to stop fracking in the borough and denies local people the opportunity to scrutinise fracking applications that affect their communities.

These proposals must be stopped, otherwise it will be a green light for frackers to come to Bury and caused untold damage."

Cllr Shori believes the issue must be debated as a matter of urgency before the consultations end in October.

The motion calls on councillors to:

Demand the withdrawal of the proposals and work with the borough’s MPS and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to lobby for a change in the government’s position.

And request an urgent meeting with secretary of state James Brokenshire MP Bury Council to discuss the potential environmental, economic and health impacts on the borough.