BURY Councillors put their political differences aside to demand the government withdraws proposals to strip local authorities of their powers to stop fracking.

An emergency motion tabled by council leader Rishi Shori won unanimous backing from across the chamber.

The government is currently running two parallel consultations around fracking. One suggests an automatic right to explore for shale gas, while a second proposes removing councils' ability to reject plans to "frack" in their area by centralising the decision making process.

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

But last night members of all parties agreed that local planning authorities must be able to rule on all planning applications concerning fracking.

Addressing the full council at the town hall last night, Cllr Shori said the proposals to "shift responsibility to a faceless secretary of state" were "an affront to democracy".

But he added that while the changes would be "massive" if ultimately signed off, they could still be stopped.

He said: "I think it's important to stress this is not government policy, so there's still an opportunity to influence it and to change it. This motion is as much about protecting local democracy as about fracking and not one that needs to be decided on party political lines."

Fracking - or hydraulic fracturing - involves drilling into the earth and directing a high pressure mixture of water and chemicals at shale rock in order to release the gas within.

Opponents of the controversial practice say it is linked with earth tremors, air pollution and water contamination and that the long term risks are unknown.

And Cllr Shori said that the council that classing shale gas exploration as a "permitted development" on a par with housing extensions would be an "incredible step".

He said."If someone wants to take the opportunity to explore shale gas in the field next to your house there would be no requirement for planning permission or even for you to be consulted."

But he added that the suggestion of centralising decision making to the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project regime was "far more dangerous".

"Removing power from local planning authorities on whether an application should be approved or not is an outrage. Who knows better than the councillors in this chamber or the residents who hold each and every one of us to account.

"This is only a consultation we can stop this or start a chain reaction of other councils doing the same."

Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr Tim Pickstone said his party was of the belief that fracking should have "no place" in the future energy supply of the country.

And he added that the "sovereignty" of the council's planning authority was paramount.

"It should be us that take important decisions, I have been very reassured by what Cllr Shori said — who knows better than the councillors of this chamber?"

It was a sentiment echoed by Cllr James Daly, leader of Bury Tory group.

He said: "This is not a motion on the merits, or not, of fracking, it's a motion for this council to come together, stand united and say that, whatever one's view, we believe the decision should be taken at local level, by the local planning authority."