Lancashire County Council’s planning committee will next week consider gas exploration company Cuadrilla’s controversial plans to frack for shale gas at two sites.
Officers’ reports to the development control committee were today released online, with councillors being recommended to refuse plans to frack at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, and Roseacre Wood in the Fylde countryside.
Supporters of shale gas claim the industry could create thousands of jobs and give the county an economic boom.
Opponents fear traffic noise, pollution and the risk of earthquakes from the fracking process.
The hearing at County Hall starts next Wednesday and is expected to last up to four days. Around 100 members of the public have each been given a four-minute speaking slot and major groups have been allocated 30-minute slots to make their case.
Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and anti-fracking protesters from around Lancashire are expected to lobby the hearing.
If fracking gets the go--ahead in Lancashire, its is expected that other areas of the country will follow suit. David Cameron and the Tory-led Government have urged the Lancashire community to get behind shale gas exploration.
Some estimates say the shale gas industry could create up to 64,000 jobs across the UK. But Friends of the Earth and other pressure groups say the claims are wildly exaggerated.
Friends of the Earth say the number of jobs in Lancashire would fall to under 200 only three years after work begins, and both sites would result in just 11 net jobs each. They have called for county councillors to support renewable energy solutions like wind farms.
The North West Energy Task Force, a coalition of over 500 businesses and academics, says opponents of fracking are wrong to present the development of natural gas from shale as an either / or situation. It says fossil fuels and renewables can sit side by side to help the UK maximise all its energy sources.
The county planning committee’s decision is not expected to need ratification from the full council, but any decision could be subject to appeal.