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Fracking may still happen in Preston

Exploration: A task group will decide whether fracking, like this site at Preese Hill, should be allowed on council land

Exploration: A task group will decide whether fracking, like this site at Preese Hill, should be allowed on council land

Town Hall bosses in Preston may still allow ‘fracking’ companies to drill for shale gas on the city’s land, it was revealed today.

Last month councillors voted overwhelmingly to declare Preston a “fracking free city” after a notice of motion was tabled at a council meeting. A special task group will now examine the arguments for and against the process.

It is expected the detailed examination, led by members of the environmental scrutiny panel, will get underway in the next three to four months.

Evidence from fracking companies and those opposed to the practice are expected to be heard, while councillors will also conduct a detailed site visit to the Preese Hall test site, in Weeton, where fracking work is already underway.

And it could lead to the group recommending that Preston declares itself ‘fracking free’ – or alternatively sanctioning exploratory works on council land.

Coun Nick Pomfret, who will chair the investigation, said: “It is a mixed party committee a bit like the select committees in the House of Commons.

“It will involve a site visit to where a company has already started a fracking programme. It will allow the council to decide whether it will accept companies coming in to undertake fracking or whether we take the opposite view.”

If the committee recommends no fracking on council land, private companies could still sanction the practice on private land.

The notice of motion, tabled by Council Michael Lavalette, was seconded by Coun Pomfret, but he said today he would keep an “open mind” throughout the study.

 

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