COUNCILLORS in Poole have recommended that a letter is sent to the government opposing any changes to the planning procedures for fracking – but stopped as far as calling for a ban.

On Tuesday, members of the council’s place scrutiny committee considered a motion, first raised last month, asking for it to prohibit the fuel extraction method “on and under” the borough’s land.

However, following a warning from the council’s policy manager, Nick Perrins, that such a move would “undermine” its planning process, councillors agreed not to support the move.

The motion was lodged by Cllr Mike Brooke in response to dozens of earthquakes recorded at the Lancashire site of the UK’s only fracking operation.

As well as calling for a ban, he asked for the council to oppose any changes to the existing planning procedure which could make it easier for energy firms to secure permission to frack.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting of its place scrutiny committee, Cllr Brooke said: “The government is trying to make it easier for anyone to come in and carry out fracking without needing to get planning permission.

“The potential impacts impinge on local people and the local authority should have a say on it.

“The environmental impact of fracking is much greater than we would see at Wytch Farm which is why I think we should ban it in Poole.”

However, a report to the committee said that it could create “conflict” with its legal obligations to consider planning 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,” it said.

“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.”

Cllr Andy Garner-Watts, chairman of the council’s planning committee, echoed the report’s concerns.

“I couldn’t support anything which takes away someone’s right to put in a planning request,” he said. “I don’t think it’s democratic.

“I think we could generally support opposing changes to planning regulations but there are safeguards in place for fracking operations and we should take that into account.”

Councillors agreed to recommend that the council opposes any changes proposed by government to existing planning processes but voted against a ban.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Brooke said that the support for part of his motion was more than he expected.