Farmers lead protests against '˜dirty' fracking

Residents opposed to fracking in Lancashire packed a public inquiry for a second time to urge a planning inspector to throw out plans to search for shale gas.

Friday, 26th February 2016, 10:07 am
Updated Thursday, 10th March 2016, 9:06 pm
Fracking public enquiry at Blackpool Football Club

Scores of objectors flocked to Blackpool Football Club for a public inquiry into Cuadrilla’s plans to frack at sites in Roseacre Wood, near Elswick, and Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

It was the second evening public session arranged by the planning inspectorate to accommodate the large number of members of the public wanting to urge planning inspector Wendy McKay to reject Cuadrilla’s plans.

Cuadrilla is appealing against Lancashire County Council’s decision to refuse the firm permission to frack at the two Lancashire sites.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Cuadrilla and supporters say the shale gas industry will give Lancashire an economic boom, creating jobs and wealth for the county.

But Fylde farmers were among those who voiced great concerns about possible pollution caused by fracking

Dairy farmer Robert Sanderson, of Kirkham, said farmers were anxious to protect their livelihood, their families and their land.

He was concerned about pollution problems which could result in infertility in cattle, land and health effects on humans.

He said: “Surely there are enough green energy solutions out there without us having to go down this dirty road?”

Mr Sanderson said his business was subject to strict food regulations and fracking could seriously compromise this.

Dairy farmer Andrew Pemberton said his cows grazed and drank water all across the area.

He said: “ We are very, very concerned about any pollution or contamination that could happen across the Fylde coast. I don’t agree with it – it is a risk we should not be taking.”

County Coun Kevin Ellard said he also believed the Preston New Road site should be refused. He said the so-called benefits of shale gas would be “modest and short lived”, and the county’s tourism industry could be badly affected.

Local farmer Valerie Sutcliffe said the fracking wells would degrade over time and she was concerned that leaking could go on for years.

She said: “People should not be used as guinea pigs.The potential danger of fracking in England is huge.”

Earlier, Malcolm McVicar, former vice chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire, urged the inquiry to support shale gas exploration.

He said Blackpool and the Fylde would benefit enormously from the industry. It was already benefiting from an “energy academy” being based in the resort and a shale gas industry would ensure it was successful.

Businessman John Kersey said the UK needed a continuous, sustainable and secure supply of energy.

Natural gas from the North Sea was in decline and shale gas would give the UK security and control over its gas supplies.

The inquiry is expect to last for up to another two weeks.