`

Fracking inquiry into Cuadrilla's Roseacre Wood plans gets underway in Blackpool

Shale gas firm Cuadrilla wants to drill at Roseacre Wood
Shale gas firm Cuadrilla wants to drill at Roseacre Wood

The opening arguments have been made in a fresh planning inquiry into plans for a second fracking site in Lancashire.

Measures including 30 passing places and traffic signals will ensure highways safety on country lanes if shale gas company Cuadrilla is allowed to drill at Roseacre Wood, the inquiry at Blackpool's Bloomfield Road has heard.

The hearing, which is expected to stretch over three weeks, was told three separate routes would be used to access the site, meaning there would be 12 two-way HGV movements on a route each day.

HGVs would not run at weekends except in cases of an emergency.

But opponents to the plans warned the changes proposed would still not be enough to reduce the impact on the community.

Fears were raised that vulnerable road users, such as cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders, would be most at risk from the heavy traffic generated from the drilling site.

The planning inquiry has been reconvened to consider new highway evidence after Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said he would be minded to allow fracking if a suitable transport management plan could be devised. Planning inspector Wendy McKay in 2016 recommended that the original planning application for Roseacre be turned down on traffic safety grounds.

In her opening statement, Nathalie Lieven QC, representing Cuadrilla, which has already completed drilling the first horizontal well at its Preston New Road fracking site, said the routes had been assessed 'in very great detail'.

She said: "Where there are narrow sections, passing places are provided and these ensure sufficient forward visibility to be confident the vehicles will able to see each other and wait.

"This type of manoeuvre is no different from what is happening on these roads at present times."

But Alan Evans QC, representing Lancashire County Council, said the proposed mitigation would not overcome highways safety issues.

He added: "The proposed passing places, even if all capable of effective implementation, in practice operate with unsatisfactory reversing manoeuvres being required."

The hearing continues and is due to hear from the Roseacre Awareness Group and a number of individuals over the coming days.