ISSUING a blanket ban on fracking could “undermine” Poole council’s planning processes, one of its directors has warned.

Last month councillors put forward a motion calling for it to bring in rules prohibiting the controversial gas extraction method.

However, a report to the council’s place scrutiny committee, which is due to consider the move on Tuesday, says that it would be “inadvisable” to bring in a ban.

The motion was put forward by Cllr Mike Brooke at November’s council meeting in response to dozens of reports of earthquakes caused as a result of the country’s first fracking operation in Lancashire.

The Cuadrilla operation, which began in October, has been linked with a series of earth tremors recorded in the area.

Cllr Brooke said that a ban, as well as a commitment to oppose any planning regulation changes which would make securing permission for shale gas extraction easier, would “protect the Dorset countryside and its people” from the damage it can cause.

The motion was referred to the place scrutiny committee so that a report could be produced before councillors make any decision.

Written by the council’s strategic director for planning, Kate Ryan, the report says that the introduction of a ban could create “conflict” with its legal obligation to fairly consider applications.

“Whilst the sensitivities around fracking are understood, officers consider that the council is, at the present time, unable to impose a ban on fracking within Poole,” she says.

“The reason being is that to impose a ban would likely be a pre-determination of a decision that should be taken through the statutory planning regime.”

The report adds that imposing a blanket ban “would likely undermine” the planning process and that it could leave it open to legal challenge.

Through its agreement with Dorset County Council in the determination of proposals to extract raw materials, the council does already have an existing position opposing fracking having supported opposition from the county council to a government consultation on shale gas exploration.

The motion calling for the introduction of a ban “on or under any land” within the borough’s boundaries will be considered on Tuesday.