Policing cost of the Lancashire fracking site almost reached £13m

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The total cost of the policing operation alone at Lancashire’s high profile fracking site rose to nearly £13m.

The spend has been described by environmental campaigners as a waste of money following the moratorium on new fracking in the UK.

The controversial Preston New Road site saw a regular presence of protesters throughout its operation from January 2017 to December 2019.

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Shale gas exploration firm Cuadrilla began drilling there in 2017 after then Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, overruled Lancashire County Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for fracking at the Preston New Road site at Little Plumpton following a public enquiry.

Police at Cuadrilla's Preston New Road fracking site keeping the way open for deliveriesPolice at Cuadrilla's Preston New Road fracking site keeping the way open for deliveries
Police at Cuadrilla's Preston New Road fracking site keeping the way open for deliveries

The constant protests, over the effects fracking might have on the environment, meant a heavy police presence had to be maintained. Many arrests were made of people trying to block entrance to the site where two wells were eventually drilled.

Fracking, the injection of high pressure water and chemicals into shale rock to release gas, has been shelved by the Government following the scores of earth tremors caused by the site until firms can show better prediction of earth movements.

Now police have revealed the total cost was £12.929m following a Freedom of Information request to Lancashire Constabulary.

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So far the police have been able to claim more than £7m back from the Home Office towards the costs, although more could yet be sent as there are outstanding bids for funding.

The Preston New Road fracking siteThe Preston New Road fracking site
The Preston New Road fracking site

Lancashire Constabulary said: “The Police Liaison Officers final duty was on December 23, 2019.”

A spokesman for Frack Free Lancashire said: “We already knew from the National Audit Office that policing costs had officially reached £11.8 m, so to read that Lancashire Police now admit that £13m was spent of facilitating fracking at PNR comes as no great surprise.

“What people need to take on board here is that this was for just one site. Had the industry been successful this would have been replicated across dozens of sites across the county.

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“As it is the industry has failed and the £13m has been wasted. We hope the government will now fully reimburse Lancashire for the costs incurred in policing its failed attempt to impose this unwanted industry on the local population.”