Plans to start fracking in Lancashire rejected by local councillors

Energy firm Cuadrilla submitted application to drill for shale gas at a site in Little Plumpton, between Preston and Blackpool, but local councillors rejected it

Matt Dathan
Monday 29 June 2015 13:26 BST
Anti-fracking protesters state their case during a demonstration outside of a meeting in Preston County Hall
Anti-fracking protesters state their case during a demonstration outside of a meeting in Preston County Hall

Plans to start fracking at a site in Lancashire have been rejected by local councillors - the second application to be rejected in the county in one week.

Energy firm Cuadrilla had submitted an application to drill for shale gas in Little Plumpton, a site between Preston and Blackpool.

But the application, which was approved by planning officials albeit with a number of conditions, was rejected by councillors, who voted against it.

It follows last week's decision by Lancashire councillors to reject an application from the company to frack at another site in the county at Roseacre Wood, due to the impact on rural roads.

Cuadrilla wants to test the flow of gas at the Little Plumpton site following drilling at up to four exploration wells.

Members of the council's development control committee voted 10-4 to reject the application and the decision was met with applause from members of the public watching the verdict. The decision followed a motion passed by the committee that it should turn down the application because it would cause an unacceptable impact on the landscape, visual amenities and noise.

It is a set back for the government's determination to go "all out for shale," claiming it would create jobs and growth, reduce energy prices and cut the country's reliance on gas imports.

But opponents of fracking, which involves pumping water, chemicals and sand at high pressure underground to fracture shale rock and release the gas trapped in it, welcomed the decision after warning that the process could cause earthquakes, can pollute water supplies and could lead to inappropriate development in the countryside.

Friends of the Earth described the decision as "a sigh of relief" to communities who would be affected by fracking.

Furqan Naeem, north west campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: “In the teeth of massive pressure from Cuadrilla and Westminster, Lancashire’s brave county councillors have voted to protect their citizens and the local environment - the winners today are democracy and the people of Lancashire.

“Both Cuadrilla and the Government must respect Lancashire’s decision and not try to force unpopular fracking on these communities. Many polls show that the public wants renewable energy, not fracking – and the clean energy and long term jobs it provides.

“The stakes for local people, for democracy and for the environment could not be higher. Though all three emerge as victors today, the fight against fracking and dirty energy is far from over."

The Prime Minister's spokeswoman said: "We respect the planning process; the government's been clear that we think shale has got huge potential and presents with an opportunity to develop a new energy resource and create jobs and we will keep looking at how we can continue to develop this industry in the UK."

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