Lord Browne had previously met Environment Agency’s chairman Lord Chris Smith more than three times to argue that the laws governing drilling waste didn’t apply to Cuadrilla’s operations. At Browne’s request, Paterson convened a meeting in which Lord Smith agreed to slash by half the consultation time to obtain a waste permit.
He also agreed to direct a county council to process Cuadrilla’s planning permit and to investigate any further risks that impact the company’s plans.
The revelations highlight a conflict of interest of Lord Browne’s-the former chief executive of BP-roles as both the Cuadrilla’s chair and the government lead non-executive director.
“These revelations are extremely disturbing and it certainly looks like there is a conflict of interest between Lord Browne’s government and commercial positions,” said Caroline Lucas, a Green party MP. Lucas, along with other anti-fracking activists, is scheduled to appear on Monday in Brighton court to face charges over anti-Cuadrilla demonstration held last August.
Lucas, an active MPs environmental committee member, also voiced concern over the approach taken by the Environmental Agency in the meeting.
“That is even more worrying and seems at odds with its responsibilities to protect the environment and to ensure that people have their say on fracking,” she added
Last January, British newspapers reported that government officials and shale gas executives colluded privately to calm down the British public’s widespread condemnation against fracking. Paterson was recently quoted as saying that he wishes to see all shale gas reserves in rural parts of Britain exploited.
To contact the reporter of this story; Jonathan Millet at firstname.lastname@example.org