Lancashire Police reimbursed just one fifth of fracking protest costs
Lancashire Police have been reimbursed just a fraction of the costs of policing the ongoing fracking protests in Preston New Road.
Despite repeated requests outlining the growing costs of the policing operation - which by the end of March 2018 will have reached close to Â£7 million - Lancashire has been handed just Â£1.4 million back from Government, the minimum allowed under Home Office rules.
Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, has urged Police and Fire Minister Nick Hurd to reconsider the decision.
Mr Grunshaw said: "This is a bitter blow for Lancashire and I have already written back to Nick Hurd urging him to reconsider and to Lancashire MPs to lend their support.
“The decision to frack in our county overturned that made by Lancashire County Council. The expectation on Lancashire Constabulary to cover the costs of a decision borne in Whitehall is not a fair deal.
“This is a resource demand which is not likely to leave Lancashire any time soon. Protests are still ongoing and are expected to escalate as we enter spring and summer and officers on the ground continue to do a very difficult job under intense pressure and scrutiny.
“This is also not just an issue for Blackpool and the Fylde; officers from across Lancashire continue to undertake shifts at the site, and this is not how the public of Lancashire expect their police budget to be spent so I will continue to fight this.”
Cat Smith, the MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, has reacted angrily to news.
“This is disgraceful,” said Ms Smith. “This government has forced fracking on Lancashire and now they are passing the costs of policing it onto Lancashire as well.
"Understandably there are protests at the site every day from local people and environmentalists who are fighting this Government’s decision to ignore overwhelming opposition to this unwanted development. It is therefore the Government’s responsibility to pay for policing those protests.”
Smith added: "Fracking is not the answer to issues regarding energy security or climate change.
"It is the wrong option for our local environment and the wrong option for our country’s energy needs.
"Instead of locking ourselves into an energy infrastructure based on fossil fuels we should be taking our climate change commitments seriously and looking at how we can promote more renewable forms of energy.”
Ms Smith is set to write to Police and Fire Minister Nick Hurd urging him to do the right thing and reconsider his refusal to cover the policing costs.
A Home Office spokesperson said they have provided Lancashire Police with up to Â£1.4 million of funding “in accordance with published special grant guidance”.