FRACKING REFUSED: First blood to anti-frackers after ‘no’ vote

After a day of impassioned pleas both for and against fracking, county councillors voted to reject a bid for a test frack site at Roseacre on the Fylde.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 26th June 2015, 7:12 am
Refused: County councillors decided to reject an application to frack at Roseacre
Refused: County councillors decided to reject an application to frack at Roseacre

Councillors said a revised road access plan was not acceptable and would have too great an impact on the narrow country lanes leading to the village.

Officers had recommended the bid to see if fracking - the controversial practice of firing sand and chemicals in water at high pressure into rock to release trapped gas - would be feasible at the site, for refusal.

Cuadrilla had said that the maximum truck movements to the drilling site would be 25 at peak activity times, but Lancashire County Council’s Development Control Committee decided that even with an alternative route it would not be acceptable.

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Coun Alan Schofield moved that the application be rejected.

He said: “I can’t see how it can be feasible to have more HGVs using those narrow lanes.

His motion was seconded by Coun Malcolm Barron who said: “It has been said that there are large agricultural vehicles using these roads but they are driven by local people who know them.

“Visibility is the problem time and time again there and if you are local you know that if you are new to the area you will not.”

Coun Marcus Johnstone said: “The Broughton junction is already incredible congested and it is not on that more HGVs should use it. Access is not good enough in this case.”

Coun Kevin Ellard added: “It is crystal clear when you drive that road that with traffic going in both directions there is no way HGVs could do it.”

The associated application to construct a series of monitoring arrays to go with the drill site was granted by the committee as it was felt there was no planning grounds to refuse it that could be sustainable if the applicant appealed.

Speaking after the decision, Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, said he was not surprised at either decision but was disappointed at the refusal vote.

He said: “I am not hugely surprised given that the planning officers recommended the application be refused, but we thought we had done enough to accommodate the traffic issues.

“There are already HGVs and large agricultural vehicles that use those roads so the issue appears to be about the incremental increase. I am not sure I agree with them on that but we will go away and look at the planning decision and then decide what action to take.”

He said he was pleased the application for monitoring arrays was granted by the council but he said a decision to progress with those would have to be taken after they had considered the test fracking refusal.

That decision will have to be taken on Monday when the committee returns to County Hall Preston to consider the deferred application to test frack at Preston New Road near Little Plumpton.