Lancashire fracking plans come up against opposition from Preston Council chiefs

JOINING PROTESTORS: Deputy leader of Preston Council, coun John Swindells.

JOINING PROTESTORS: Deputy leader of Preston Council, coun John Swindells.

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Preston Council chiefs look set to object to plans for fracking in Lancashire.

Ahead of a crunch meeting this month for Lancashire County Council to determine exploration bids by Cuadrilla at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, and Roseacre, Preston Council looks set to raise objections.

HAVING A SAY: One of the protestors against fracking

HAVING A SAY: One of the protestors against fracking

But the recommendation from Town Hall officers flies in the face of a previous call by the city’s environmental task group, which agreed to “cautiously accept” shale gas extraction after talks of the city becoming the industry’s administrative headquarters.

The call has not yet been accepted as council policy, and the planning committee will meet today to discuss their stance on drilling at the Roseacre site.

Bosses have recommended that the council objects to the plans, on the grounds of the impact of traffic on Broughton and Woodplumpton.

Deputy leader of Preston Council, Coun John Swindells, said the council did not yet have a stance on fracking, but he would object to it from a personal perspective.

I will be joining to protestors at County Hall, I very very much object to fracking.

Coun John Swindells

He said: “I will be joining to protestors at County Hall, I very very much object to fracking.”

He said the recommendation from the environmental scrutiny panel, which agreed not to declare Preston a “frack-free city”, was due to be discussed by the council’s cabinet.

Coun Swindells said: “Planning is based on facts more than opinions and they have to comply with planning legislation and, from what I understand, it is not the fracking itself they are objecting to, it’s the way of getting the equipment to it through Broughton traffic lights.

“On planning grounds alone they are objecting to it, and if the committee accepts the views of officers we will object to it.

MAKING A STANCE: Residents and neighbours of Roseacre village gather to protest against fracking in the area.

MAKING A STANCE: Residents and neighbours of Roseacre village gather to protest against fracking in the area.

“They are not being asked to say whether they support fracking or not, it’s traffic getting to the site.

“I do feel they should reject fracking altogether, but that’s another matter that will be decided at another committee.”

If the city council agrees with officers, their views will be lodged as an objection to County Hall.

Lancashire County Council’s development control committee will meet later this month to determine the applications.

A report to Preston’s planning committee, due to meet this afternoon, says: “Objections are raised on the basis that the proposed development includes alternative routeing proposals for HGV construction traffic, one of which involves inbound traffic to the development site using a route from the A6 via Broughton Crossroads and the B5269 through the parish of Woodplumpton.

“This route is likely to have potentially severe adverse effects on the operation of the highway network in terms of traffic disruption and highway safety and would not improve the high levels of air pollution in the Broughton Air Quality Management Area.”

It said: “While the development proposals mainly affect an area well away from the city boundary the consequences of routeing HGV construction traffic from the A6 via Broughton and the B5269 would have unacceptable adverse traffic and air pollution impacts.”

The committee is recommended to raise no objection to monitoring works within a 4km radius of the proposed Roseacre Wood site.

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said: “The application which will be discussed is regarding alternative routing proposals for HGV construction traffic in relation to Cuadrilla’s Roseacre Wood site

“Preston City Council are being consulted the by Lancashire County Council, which will determine the application

“The existing route is Cuadrilla’s preferred option - the Broughton leg which is being discussed tomorrow is the alternative route, not the preferred route. It’s also worth noting that the 25 HGVs per day referred to in the planning documents is a maximum and not an average.”