BOLTON Council has rejected government proposals that would see it stripped of its powers to make decisions over fracking.

Ministers are currently running two parallel consultations around the controversial practice. One suggests an automatic right to explore for shale gas under permitted development rules, while a second proposes removing councils’ ability to reject plans to “frack” in their area by centralising the decision making process.

But Cllr Martin Donaghy, the authority’s strategic housing and planning chief, has responded to the government’s consultation, setting out the council’s firm rejection the proposals. He told The Bolton News: “We oppose the fracking proposals from the government in principle.

“This is completely in line with council policy and, secondly, we are absolutely angered by the fact local democracy is being bypassed so that the government can take it upon themselves to make a decision.

“And that goes right across the political spectrum, not just from within the Labour ranks.”

Cllr Donaghy’s response is not the only reaction to the government’s proposals.

Labour’s Cllr Stephen Pickup has tabled a motion for Wednesday’s full council meeting urging members to reject the “madness” of removing decision making from local authorities.

It also calls on Bolton’s two Labour MPs to oppose the proposals but adds there is “no point” asking Bolton West Tory MP Chris Green, as he had previously voted to allow fracking under National Parks.

But Mr Green says this misunderstands his position. He said: “Taking power away from councils would be the wrong move. I want our local democratic representatives to have the ability to approve or veto any decision on fracking in the local area.”

Bolton’s Tory leader, Cllr David Greenhalgh added: “It is absolutely crucial that we fight for local decision making on all issues, fracking just being one example.

“We are elected to make local decisions and we should be held to account for those decisions.”