Clark intervenes to decide Lancashire fracking appeals

Communities secretary Greg Clark will decide a group of four appeals relating to controversial plans for shale gas exploration in Lancashire, it has emerged.

Fracking protest (picture: Friends of the Earth)
Fracking protest (picture: Friends of the Earth)

Energy firm Cuadrilla is appealing against Lancashire County Council’s decision in June to refuse permission for fracking on two sites, at Preston New Road and Rosacre Wood.

The firm announced its intention to appeal the decisions in July.

In a statement issued this week, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said that the two appeals have been recovered for determination by the secretary of state, together with two monitoring appeals for the sites.

A letter to interested parties, sent on behalf of Clark, said that the drilling appeals had been recovered because they "involve proposals for exploring and developing shale gas which amount to proposals for development of major importance having more than local significance and proposals which raise important or novel issues of development control, and/or legal difficulties".

The letter added that the monitoring appeals "are being considered at the same time as the drilling appeals and will be most efficiently and effectively determined by the secretary of state".

In a policy statement published in August, the government said that appeals against any refusal of planning permission for shale gas applications, or against non-determination, would be "treated as a priority for urgent resolution".

The policy statement added that the communities secretary "may also want to give particular scrutiny to these appeals" and would revise criteria to enable him to consider recovering appeals for exploring and developing shale gas".

In a statement, Cuadrilla said: "We note the decision of the secretary of state for communities and local government to decide the appeals after the planning inspector has conducted the public inquiry and produced a report and recommendations. This is part of the long established planning process and we look forward to presenting our case at the public inquiry commencing in February."

A DCLG spokesman said: "Ministers have decided to recover Cuadrilla’s appeals for shale exploration in Lancashire. They consider these proposals are of more than local significance and raise important issues of planning development control."

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