Lancashire frack site extension is refused

Cuadrilla's drill rig at Becconsall.
Cuadrilla's drill rig at Becconsall.
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Anti-fracking campaigners have welcomed a decision by Lancashire County Council to refuse an extension to a shale gas drill site.

Councillors rejected a bid to extend the time for Cuadrilla to restore their site at Becconsall near Tarleton which should have been finished by August 31.

It had originally been set for restoration to the farmer’s field in September 2012 after drilling there ended in 2011, but Cuadrilla had been given four subsequent extensions.

Residents and opponents had asked for the latest extension bid to be rejected and councillors went against planning officers’ advice to do that.

Instead the development control committee voted for enforcement action against the company for not returning it to farmland in time.

The site is near to the internationally-important Ribble Estuary wildfowl reserve, and Cuadrilla has asked for a another year’s extension to avoid disturbing birds.

A company spokesman said: “It is was not possible to do any works at the site as little ringed plover birds were found in June to have nested just 12m from the well head. Any work would have caused disturbance to the nest which had four eggs.

“We understand that Lancashire County Councils Development Control Committee has turned down Cuadrilla’s request for a time extension. We are awaiting to hear officially from Lancashire County Council on the reasons for this determination and then will determine next steps.”