‘We are disappointed but the fight is far from over’

Members of the Preston New Road Action Group
Members of the Preston New Road Action Group
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Disappointed residents have said the fight will go on after Lancashire County Council planning officers recommended the go-ahead be given to one proposed fracking test site in Lancashire.

Planning officials said that a bid by Cuadrilla to drill and frack for gas at a site off Preston New Road near Little Plumpton could go ahead as long a strict conditions were met. However a bid to frack at a second site at Roseacre was recommended for refusal because of the effect on narrow country lanes in the area.

Both decisions will be made by councillors on the Development Control Committee next week, but the officers’ report is seen as a significant part of the evidence they must rule over.

Despite yesterday’s approval for the proposal in their area, members of the Preston New Road Action Group said the battle was far from over.

Patricia Davies, group chairman, said: “We are really pleased for Roseacre. We fought the campaign together. But we are very disappointed about the recommendation - but that is all it is.

“We know when we put the facts before the council they will see how damaging the application is. People do not want this. We are hoping the council will take this on board.

“We were all very, very disappointed but in some ways it’s not unexpected. There are many, many issues to consider. The fight is far from over.”

Claire Stephenson, 36, from Wesham, organised a petition to governors at her children’s school in Weeton over her concerns about the process.

She said: “We put in a petition about our fears but Lancashire County Council is not moving on that. I think it is a lack of respect for the health of our children which is most concerning. It is only one mile away. It is really not good.

“We trust LCC to respect people’s opinions. People do not want this.”

John Tootill, of Preston New Road, added: “I can say I am disappointed but I am not surprised. I am very confident that the voting members will vote against the application.”

Susan Holliday, 52, of Foxwood Chase added: “This makes our job more difficult over the next few weeks. We still have to go down the determination process and I hope and pray the council will see sense.”

Elizabeth Warner from the Roseacre Awareness Group said they were relived planning officers said the application should be refused near their homes but added that they were disappointed for their counterparts near Preston New Road. She said: “Fracking is abhorrent to many. To others who may admit its uses, and we are not among them, they find that Cuadrilla’s lack of respect for the planning process is staggering.

“With Roseacre Wood Cuadrilla chose a site that challenged all planning policies and the traffic issue proves this. It is right in the centre of rural Fylde with narrow lanes serving agriculture and settlements, so it was an unsupportable application from the start.

“Greater respect for planning and its objectives is required. Development cannot be sanctioned in any place, at any cost. That was what was required for Roseacre Wood and Cuadrilla should now withdraw its application.”

Barbara Richardson, chairman of the Roseacre Awareness Group said they were taking nothing for granted and would be presenting strong evidence to strengthen their case against allowing fracking near their homes.

She said: “While obviously we are relived the officers have recommended refusal, we are horrified that they said it should go ahead at Preston New Road.”