Environment Agency nod to second Lancashire frack site

Shale gas: Protesters hand in an anti-fracking petition at County Hall. Lancashire County Council is set to decide next year on whether to grant planning permission

Shale gas: Protesters hand in an anti-fracking petition at County Hall. Lancashire County Council is set to decide next year on whether to grant planning permission

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The Environment Agency has indicated that it is likely to grant a permit for a second fracking site in Lancashire.

The agency yesterday announced a second period of consultation for the site at Roseacre Wood, near Elswick.

Assessment of the site has been going on since June, and the Environment Agency says that, as a result of this, it is “minded to grant Cuadrilla the environmental permits needed to carry out their operations”.

The Environment Agency has already said it is minded to grant a permit for the site at Little Plumpton.

Both sites would still need planning permission, which Lancashire County Council will be making a decision on early in January 2015.

Steve Molyneux, Environment Agency environment manager for Lancashire, said: “Our regulatory controls for onshore oil and gas are in place to protect people and the environment. We will not permit activities that pose an unacceptable risk.”

Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said: “We welcome the announcement by the Environment Agency that it is minded to approve our permits for our proposed exploration site at Roseacre Wood, following the ‘minded to grant’ statement the agency issued a few weeks ago for our other proposed site at Preston New Road.”

The announcement comes as a survey for Greenpeace revealed that the majority of people in Lancashire want a moratorium on fracking, pending more research.

The poll of 500 Lancashire residents shows nearly two thirds, 63 per cent, are in favour of a fracking ban, with an even stronger majority, 69 per cent, saying more time should be allowed for a public debate to take place before planning authorities decide on drilling licences.