Campaigners welcome recommendation to reject fracking in Lancashire

Friends of The Earth Protesters outside Lancashire County Hall as the Fracking bid is refused
Friends of The Earth Protesters outside Lancashire County Hall as the Fracking bid is refused
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Environmental campaigners have welcomed news that Lancashire County Council officers have recommended refusal for two fracking sites.

​​Lancashire County Council’s planning committee will next week consider gas exploration company Cuadrilla’s controversial plans to frack for shale gas.

Officers’ reports to the committee were today released online, with councillors being recommended to refuse plans to frack at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, and Roseacre Wood in the Fylde countryside.​​

Noise, traffic movement and loss of amenity to local residents were among the main reason for recommending refusal.

The hearing at County Hall starts next Wednesday and is expected to last up to four days.

Friends of the Earth’s North West campaigner Helen Rimmer said: “We are delighted that the planning officers have recognised the serious effects that these developments would have on neighbouring residents and have recommended that Lancashire County Council refuses these applications.

“Councillors must now act on this and the tens of thousands of objections they have received and reject Cuadrilla’s fracking applications next week.

“Only by doing so will they ensure that fracking is not allowed to cause further climate change while also putting communities and the local environment at risk.”

​Babs Murphy, chief ​executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce said:​ ​“This is potentially a disappointing set-back for job creation in the North West. As Monday’s report by the Centre for Cities shows, Blackpool has fewer businesses in 2013 than in 2004 and 10 per cent fewer jobs, and therefore has a pressing need for growth and investment to boost job creation.

“This is what members of the Development Control Committee should have in mind next week, especially given the Environment Agency’s recent decision to grant a permit for exploration.”

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said the firm was disappointed at the recommendation.

He added: “After an extraordinarily lengthy period of consultation and review of around seven months we are surprised that, at this late point, the Planning team at Lancashire County Council has raised objections about background noise for both sites. #

“We believe, supported by independent experts Arup, that we have come forward with measures that would mitigate the noise of drilling and fracturing and the proposed noise levels are within the limits set out in government guidance.”

Lee Petts, spokesman for the North West Energy Task Force said he was disappointed.

He said: “Natural gas from North West shale could be a massive opportunity for growth, investment, jobs and revenues in our region.”

The North West Energy Task Force, a coalition of over 500 businesses and academics, says opponents of fracking are wrong to present the development of natural gas from shale as an either / or situation. It says fossil fuels and renewables can sit side by side to help the UK maximise all its energy sources.

Up to the end of December 2014 a total of 11,125 representations objecting to the Preston New Road proposal had been received.

A report into Roseacre says “it would generate an increase in traffic, particularly HGV movements, that would result in an unacceptable impact on the rural highway network.”

Up to the end of December 2014 a total of 8924 representations objecting to the Roseacre proposal had been received.

Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and anti-fracking protesters from around Lancashire are expected to lobby the hearing next week

Around 100 members of the public have each been given a four-minute speaking slot and major groups have been allocated 30-minute slots to make their case.

The county development control committee’s decision is not expected to need ratification from the full council, but any decision could be subject to appeal.

If fracking does gets the go--ahead in Lancashire, it is expected that other areas of the country will follow suit.

David Cameron and the Tory-led Government have urged the Lancashire community to get behind shale gas exploration.

Some estimates say​​ the shale gas industry could create up to 64,000 jobs across the UK. But Friends of the Earth and other pressure groups say the claims are wildly exaggerated.

Friends of the Earth say the number of jobs in Lancashire would fall to under 200 only three years after work begins, and both sites would result in just 11 net jobs each. They have called for county councillors to support renewable energy solutions like wind farms.

Read our original breaking news story here