Anti-fracking protesters have their say at public inquiry

Protesters outside Blackpool Football Club on the opening dayProtesters outside Blackpool Football Club on the opening day
Protesters outside Blackpool Football Club on the opening day
Residents opposed to fracking in the Lancashire countryside packed a public inquiry to urge a planning inspector to throw out shale gas plans for the county.

Speaker after speaker urged the authorities to reject Cuadrilla’s applications to frack for shale gas.

The residents were invited to a special evening session of the the public inquiry at Blackpool Football Club on Wednesday night.

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Cuadrilla is appealing aganst Lancashire County Council’s refusal to allow fracking at Roseacre Wood, near Elswick, and Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

Inspector Wendy McKay welcomed dozens of residents to the meeting and explained that each speaker would get five minutes to put their case.

First resident to give evidence was Roseacre resident Keith Hulme who said he was opposed to the effect fracking plans would have on his quiet, tranquil village.

Apart from the traffic and noise problems there were health issues connected with fracking. He was also concerned about the affect on tourism.

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He said there was “no justification” for shale gas exploration and it had no value.

He said: “This project is the lid on Pandora’s box and should be judged as such.”

Mr Hulme said Cuadrilla’s claims that it would be temporary were wrong. The shale gas operation could last for 20 years and could result in up to 400 new wells every year if projections were correct.

Roseacre resident Chris Noad said the tranquil ambience of Roseacre was excellent. He said the rural roads were not suited for HGVs. There were lots of blind entrances, tights corners and high hedges.

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“These proposals will turn the country lanes into an industrial conduit,” he said, adding there would also be health and safety dangers.

County Coun Alf Clempson, on behalf of Wyre MP Ben Wallace, said Mr Wallace was greatly opposed to the applications on traffic grounds among other reasons.

He said Mr Wallace was still of the opinion that the rural roads around Roseacre could simply not cope with the HGV traffic.

Roseacre resident Barbara Richardson said she loved the tranquility and peace of her village.S he moved there because of the peace and quiet.

It would be completely ruined by fracking.

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She said: “When I sit outside in my garden there’s no noise, and no light. This development will last for many more than six years and it will have an impact on our health and well being.”

Roseacre resident Jacqueline Sylvester said there were health concerns about the fracking process, on top of traffic fears.

She said noise and light pollution and possible water pollution and fumes were all possibilities.

Ms Sylvester said: “We will have to contend with noise and light pollution every day and every night.”

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Farmer Richard Moore of Woodplumpton said he feared for his industry if fracking went ahead.

He said the Government and the planning inquiry should listen to local people and reject the plans.

Mr Moore said; “It’s simply not fair. We didn’t ask for this. If anything goes wrong it will impact directly on our farming.”

Lucy Cookson of Treales said she loved the rural life and the quiet safety of the area’s country lanes.

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This would all be ruined if fracking went ahead and lorries invaded the area.

She said: “Who will want to come and live here? Who will want to holiday here? Which supermarkets would want to buy products from us?”

Earlier, North West Energy Task Froce supporter Steve Pye urged the inquiry not to miss out on the major economic possibilities that shale gas could provide.

“Let’s not miss out, let’s turn this town around,” he said.

Wigan-based business owner Tim Freshney also urged the inquiry not to reject fracking and the shale gas industry “out of fear or ignorance.”

Supporters of shale gas say it could provide an economic boom for Lancashire.

The inquiry is expected to last for around another four weeks.