In a dramatic twist towards the end of a day of anxiety and frustration for both sides on the fracking debate, county councillors voted to reject a motion to throw out energy company Cuadrilla’s planning bid to frack at Preston New Road.
The Development Control Committee members went into a private discussion with legal experts to discuss the motion proposed by County Coun Kevin Ellard who wanted the bid to frack thrown out.
After lengthy discussion the members returned to the chamber at County Hall Preston to vote. Seven voted in favour of the motion, seven again with one abstention. The committee chairman County Coun Munsif Dad used his casting vote to defeat the motion.
It means that County Hall seems likely to approve the fracking bid in the face of legal constraints but the talks in camera have left some councillors frustrated.
An angry Coun Paul Hayhurst said the reasons for that decision must be made public and asked if written advice on another planning policy CS5 which could rule out the test fracking bid, could also be given.
He raised a motion for that to take place before any further consideration of Cuadrilla’s application takes place.
He said: “It will be a shock to people to know why that vote went the way it did.The fact is members of the committee have been given legal advice which has tied the members’ hands and basically made it a waste of time for any of us to be here for the past few days.”
Coun Michael Green seconded his motion. He said: “In the interests of transparency the legal reasons should be made public.
“We need to have that advice we have heard in writing shared to the public.”
The committed voted on the new motion which was carried and the committee adjourned for the third time in the day to draft that legal advice.