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.
"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 Association
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