Lancashire fracking proposal given green light despite local outcry

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has today allowed a proposal for fracking in Lancashire, stating that the need for shale gas exploration is 'a material consideration of great weight'.

Fracking: Lancashire plans strongly opposed by green groups
Fracking: Lancashire plans strongly opposed by green groups

Javid allowed an appeal by energy firm Cuadrilla for drilling and hydraulic fracturing at four exploratory wells, together with a monitoring station, at Plumpton Hall Farm in Fylde, near Blackpool.

However, he deferred a decision on a second site at nearby Roseacre Wood to allow more time to consider the scheme’s traffic impacts.

The decision has outraged local campaigners and environmental groups. Opponents of the proposals raised various concerns including impact on climate change, harm to public health, landscape impact and waste issues.

Friends of the Earth pointed out that the application had received more than 18,000 objections from local residents. "This is bad news for Lancashire. The community have been fighting fracking for more than five years," said the group’s North West campaigner Helen Rimmer.

"Instead of shoving us down a dangerous path that inevitably leads to climate change, the government should invest in renewables and energy efficiency."

But Javid said the project would be consistent with moves towards a "low-carbon future" and that all impacts from the schemes would be "reduced to an acceptable level".

Objectors’ concerns "could be satisfactorily controlled by planning conditions or by other regulatory regimes", Javid concluded. "As such, they can be attributed little negative weight in the planning balance."

The need for for shale gas exploration held "great weight" and reflected the objective that the industry "could help achieve secure energy supplies", he said.

The shale gas industry welcomed the decision. "The approval is an important step forward towards determining what gas resources we have under our feet, with the aim of developing a sustainable onshore natural gas exploration industry in the UK," said Ken Cronin, chief executive of industry body UK Onshore Oil and Gas.

Meanwhile, Nottinghamshire County Council yesterday deferred a decision on an application for exploratory drilling for shale gas at a site at Misson, in the north of the county.

Operator iGas’s application had been recommended for approval, but the decision was postponed after Friends of the Earth submitted a letter from its lawyers about a restrictive covenant at a nearby site of special scientific interest, which it said raised question marks about the legality of the proposal. The decision was postponed until 15 November.

 


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