Preston New Road frack decision delay

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Planners have asked for more time to decide on two controversial applications to start fracking in the area.

Lancashire County Council had previously said that it would decide on two fracking applications from energy firm Cuadrilla by November 18.

Now planners have written to Cuadrilla to request more time to work on the applications – until December 31 for the site at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, and until January 31, 2015, for the site at Roseacre.

A council spokesman said: “The planners have been working since the applications were received in June to consult with the public and other statutory agencies, and assess the applications, to ensure all the information needed is put before the Development Control Committee.”

The two applications to start drilling for shale gas have proved highly controversial. A protest group, Frack Free Lancashire, had set up camp on one of the sites, but a court order bars them from returning.

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said: “We have accepted Lancashire County Council’s request for a further extension to the determination period for our planning applications to drill, hydraulically fracture and test the flow of gas at our proposed sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.

“Following such a long and comprehensive consultation and review period for both applications we look forward to a final determination for both.”

Friends of the Earth’s North West Campaigner Helen Rimmer said: “The applications for major fracking sites have attracted unprecedented opposition from local residents and over 20,000 objections. It is vital that there is enough time to properly understand the impacts, and we believe a thorough assessment of the risks should lead councillors to refuse these plans.