Protesters joyful but ready for Cuadrilla to appeal fracking decision

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Embattled residents are preparing for another lengthy fight despite the second of two bids to frack in the county being rejected by Lancashire County Council.

People living close to the two proposed sites that energy company Cuadrilla wants to test frack said they were over-joyed that councillors went against the advice of their planning officers to reject the bids.

Anti-fracking protesters celebrate outside Lancashire County Hall after Cuadrilla's fracking application is refused.  Gayzer Frackman celebrates with other protesters.

Anti-fracking protesters celebrate outside Lancashire County Hall after Cuadrilla's fracking application is refused. Gayzer Frackman celebrates with other protesters.

But they said they were preparing for Cuadrilla to appeal and feared the Government may get involved as it has previously stated it was going to “go all out for shale.”

Ministers have publicly backed the development of shale gas in the UK, in the hope that it could replicate the shale boom in the US, boost jobs and the economy, bring down energy prices and make the country less reliant on foreign imports.

But opponents have raised fears that the process of extracting gas by hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – causes earthquakes, can pollute water supplies, could lead to inappropriate development in the countryside and damage house prices.

MP Mark Menzies, who represents Fylde, today said that the decisions should be upheld and that he believed in localism when it came to making planning decisions.

Pat Davies, from the Preston New Road Action Group, said the residents would be having a meeting on Thursday to regroup and discuss the issue.

She said: “We will be prepared for any appeal. We have presented strong, robust evidence on visual impact and noise grounds which the councillors have accepted and on other grounds which we believe is compelling and which should mean that this application should not go ahead on appeal.

“The councillors have made a decision based on local issues and it should not be overruled by the Government.”

Bob Dennett, from Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, said while the residents were elated at the decision, many were now concerned that the Government, which has been overt in its support of a shale gas industry, will intervene to make it happen in Lancashire.

He said: “I am sure Cuadrilla will go to the secretary of state which will trigger a public enquiry so we have to get all our ducks in a row for that.

“I think the Government will try to make fracking a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project which will take it out of the planning system. But the Government is always going on about local decision being taken locally so if they do make it an NSIP then that will show hypocrisy.

“If they try to railroad it through then people will fight it and hope to bring down the Government.”

John Hobson, from Defend Lytham, said they were very pleased with the refusal decisions on Preston New Road and on Roseacre but warned the fight was likely to go on.

He said: “It is a battle won, not the war. It shows local democracy is alive and well and I hope Cuadrilla is not foolish enough to continue to fight on.

“If the Government go down the NSIP route then it will make a mockery of the Government’s localism agenda which they pushed for so long.

“Our local representatives have spoken unequivocally and if the Government overules that it will be a travesty of democracy.”

Lytham anti-fracking campaigner Gayzer Frackman said if the Government try to intervene opposition groups would fight them too.

He added: “It is brilliant that councillors have rejected these applications but we always thought it would end up being decided in the courts. I am sure there will be an appeal.

“Bring it on we say. We have built links with other communities around the country, in Ryedale, in York in Nottingham, 300 groups, everywhere under threat of fracking and we will unite the roses against Whitehall if needs be.

“This is now not just a fight against fracking it is a fight for democracy.”

Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “I have said from the outset that decisions over the suitability of shale gas sites should be made by local planning authorities and I would support whatever decision they made.

“I strongly believe in localism and if the decision has been taken that this site is not appropriate than that should be adhered to. If this now goes to appeal then I will push for these local views to be upheld.

“We have local councils for a reason and they are paid to make these important decisions so the company will now have to go away and think again.

“While the two proposed sites in Fylde may have been turned down, I am still planning to speak in a Westminster Hall debate tomorrow in Parliament where I will re-iterate my stance that ironclad regulations must be in place if shale gas exploration is to take place anywhere in the UK.”