APPLICATIONS for shale gas exploration on the Island should be determined locally — that is the message from the Isle of Wight Council.

The government has launched a consultation on the introduction of permitted development rights for shale gas exploration, which means exploratory works would not require planning permission.

Members approved a motion put forward by Cllr Barry Abraham at Wednesday's (September 19) full council meeting, calling for the authority to object to the government's proposals.

They agreed the Isle of Wight Council should continue to determine any proposals for shale gas exploration.

The Frack Free Isle of Wight campaign group, which held a demonstration outside County Hall before the meeting to raise awareness about the government's plans — urging people to object to them — welcomed the council's stance.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the group said: "Frack Free Isle of Wight is delighted our council supported a motion to oppose government plans to change planning regulations to allow the oil and gas industry permitted development rights to drill exploration wells without planning permission.

"This is usually used for simple projects, like putting up a garden shed or changing a garage door, and will override any local democratic involvement and accountability.

"The government is fast-tracking fracking. This will lead to fast-tracking fracking for gas and probably eventually oil across England.

"But this is not just about fracking. It is a matter of the public’s democratic right to stand up against dictated government changes to control planning decisions. It is about protecting the rights of local councils and communities."

Frack Free Isle of Wight has urged Island residents to object to the government's proposals.

Comments on the consultation, which closes on October 25, can be made at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/permitted-development-for-shale-gas-exploration