Why is a Guildford District Councillor running Cuadrilla’s website?

A look at Cuadrilla’s website reveals several bland documents. An application form for a job at the company, as well as various media and company pdfs. All very innocuous.

Looking at the author of these documents, however, reveals a more malign influence: Nick Sutcliffe, Conservative Councillor for Ash South & Tongham Ward, and a member of Guildford District Council (to see an example download one of Cuadrilla’s pdfs. Save the file to your desktop, then open it and go to file>properties. Look at the author)

Conservative Councillor Nick Sutcliffe authors documents for Cuadrilla

Why on earth would a Guildford District Councillor author documents for a Lancashire drilling operation? A little research reveals more: Nick Sutcliffe moonlights for PPS Group: ‘the country’s leading public affairs consultancy for the planning and development sector’. And PPS Group are Cuadrilla’s PR advisors (although Cuadrilla’s website omits to mention this).

Sutcliffe’s expertise is planning permissions – he serves on the Planning committee at Guildford District Council as well as being Lead Councillor for Environmental Services. So by paying a Guildford District Councillor to author it’s documents, Caudrilla appears to have bought themselves a tame planner, in the form of a Conservative local representative.

There is nothing illegal about this. Members of planning committees must remain neutral in planning decisions brought before them. Members from other areas are not at all restricted by the same regulations.

So when considering planning, fracking companies are able to buy in expertise – from the very area of government that is going to make the decision.

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