A bid by a fracking firm to begin the controversial gas extraction process on the Lancashire coast has been unanimously thrown out by councillors – but campaigners fear another one could be approved next week.
The planning application to explore for shale gas, lodged by Cuadrilla, was turned down by a county hall committee on the grounds that it would have “an unacceptable impact” on rural roads and safety.
Councillors agreed with the recommendation of officials to reject Cuadrilla’s application, which would have allowed the extraction of shale gas through the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing – otherwise known as ‘fracking’ – as well as exploratory drilling at Roseacre Wood, between Preston and Blackpool.
But a decision on a further application on the Fylde coast, on Preston New Road, Little Plumpton – which has been recommended for approval by planning officers – was deferred until Monday.
Cllr Marcus Johnstone a member of the planning committee, said: "We listened very carefully to many hours of evidence both for and against the proposal, and considered the report of the council's planning officers.
"The decision to refuse this application has been reached by a vote of the committee and each member of the committee has ultimately cast their vote based on the evidence they have heard and whether they think the proposal is acceptable."
Anti fracking groups welcomed the ruling – but said that “the fracking threat” still hangs over the county.
Friends of the Earth campaigner Furqan Naeem said: "This is a tremendous victory for local people and everyone across Lancashire and the UK who have been tirelessly highlighting the risks fracking poses to their quality of life and the climate.
"But the fracking threat still hangs ominously over the community near Preston New Road.
Dame Vivienne Westwood in pictures
Dame Vivienne Westwood in pictures
1/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Punk was dead as soon as the fashions, created in part by Vivienne Westwood, were mass produced (Rex)
2/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood with singer Malcolm McClaren
3/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
4/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood - the most influential designer of the 1980s, first found notoriety with her shop, Sex, from left in 1976, identity unknown, shop assistant Alan Jones, Chrissie Hynde, Jordan and Westwood
5/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood at the launch of her new autobiography with Jerry Hall
6/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
The fashion designer was for Scotland's Independence
7/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Legendary fashion designer Vivienne Westwood has joined the Hall of Fame at the Scottish Fashion Awards
8/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood, Peter Gabriel and Emma Thompson show their support at the People's Climate March, London
9/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood at Milan Fashion Week in June
10/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Dame Vivienne has become increasingly interested in green issues in recent years
11/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
The designer Dame Vivienne Westwood joined hundreds of anti-fracking campaigners in central London yesterday who want the Government to stop its investment in the gas extraction process
12/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood and Peaches Geldof arrive at the reading of Westwood's manifesto as part of 'Design Icons' at The design Museum in 2008
13/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood’s show
14/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood joined the protesters today at Balcombe
15/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
British fashion designers Vivienne Westwood and Katharine Hamnett pose on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street as they help pass on a petition in support of apiarists
16/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood holds up a sign supporting bee-keepers as she joins a demonstration outside the Place of Westminster in support of apiarists
17/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
British designer Vivienne Westwood acknowledges the audience at the and of the her show during Milan Menswear Fashion Week (Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
18/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood, Vivienne Westwood Collection Autumn Winter 2011, Nairobi 2011
19/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood at her show yesterday
20/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Designer Vivienne Westwood walks on the catwalk
21/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood sports a money print dress for her catwalk show
22/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Designer Vivienne Westwood added her voice to the protests yesterday
23/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
On 8 April, Vivienne Westwood turned 70
24/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood at her show's finale
25/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Daisy Lowe (left), Vivienne Westwood (centre) and Jacquetta Wheeler (right) walk the runway during the Vivienne Westwood Red Label Spring/Summer 2011 show
26/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood takes to the runway at her show
27/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Dame Vivienne Westwood at the funeral of Malcolm McLaren
28/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
29/29 Dame Vivienne Westwood
Chris Jackson/Getty Images
"Poll after poll shows people want renewables, not fracking - and the clean energy and long-term jobs they would provide. Lancashire councillors must put local people and our environment first and reject Cuadrilla's controversial application when they meet next Monday."
Cuadrilla said in a statement that it was “disappointed but not surprised” following the recommendation of planning officers.
"We are committed to the responsible exploration and development of the huge quantity of natural gas locked up in the shale rock deep underneath Lancashire,” the statement added. "We will now take time to consider our options, including our right to appeal."
Additional reporting by Press AssociationReuse content