Preston Council votes to oppose fracking in heated debate

anti fracking demonstration
anti fracking demonstration
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Town Hall bosses in Preston have voted to oppose fracking.

Thursday’s heated full council meeting was presented with recommendations from a cross-party task group, to “cautiously accept” shale gas extraction.

But leader Coun Peter Rankin amended the recommendations, and councillors voted to agree to the new guidance.

A report from the environmental scrutiny panel was described by Coun Nicholas Pomfret, who led the group from March 2013, as a “comprehensive and factual account of the representations that came before us and the interviews that took place”.

But the meeting heard that “time has moved on” since the report was worked on, with “more or different” information now available.

The amended report said the council should not declare itself a “frack-free city”, “although this should not imply support of fracking”.

It said: “Council will do all in its power to oppose any attempt to extract shale gas within its boundaries as well as any planning applications outside Preston which will have implications for people living in the Preston area.”

The Conservative group voted against the amended report, and Coun Damien Moore said: “I find it incredible that this council instructs the environmental scrutiny panel to come up with a report, only to be changed by the leader of the council.

“We did not spend 12 months on this for the leader to change it on a whim.”

But Coun Rankin said: “This council asked the scrutiny panel to examine it.

“It’s done that work, it’s taken a long time to come here, a lot of time has passed, and this council is entitled to say ‘no, that’s not acceptable’.