ROTHERHAM’S planning board chairman held back tears as he defended council officers from criticism by fracking firm Ineos.
Emotional Cllr Alan Atkin said the way RMBC staff had been treated by the chemical company was “appalling”.
Ineos appealed against non-determination, claiming the council had taken too long to make a decision on the Harthill drilling application.
The move came weeks after RMBC stated that it was minded to refuse the application because of fears about road access.
The planning board met today to discuss what evidence it will take to the Planning Inspectorate’s public inquiry, where the decision will be made.
Cllr Atkin said: “Our planning officers are some of the best in Britain. They have been treated badly by Ineos and, quite frankly, it’s shameful.
“We’ve got many testimonials from people up and down the country to say that our officers bend over backwards to help developers.”
Vice chairman Cllr Simon Tweed told the meeting: “I’m very sorry to the people of Harthill that we’re not here as a planning board, being able to make the decision.
“These planning officers, to say they delayed this application is absolutely rubbish. All they did was give Ineos more time.
“Ineos didn’t want the planning board members to make this decision.”
Cllr Jenny Whysall said: “Ineos have denied public democracy. I think they have acted very badly on that score.”
And Cllr Richard Price added: “I’m quite shocked by what appears to be contempt by Ineos for local democracy. It kind of stinks of corporate greed and arrogance.”
The board backed the officers’ stance that road safety fears and a lack of ecology reports meant the bid for a 2,800-metre test well could not be backed.
Ineos said the application was not being determined in a reasonable timeframe by RMBC and the Government was better equipped to come to a quick decision.
Read more on the Harthill planning meeting in this week's Rotherham Advertiser