UK: Cuadrilla to appeal Lancashire County Council’s refusal of fracking permits

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UK shale operator Cuadrilla Resources plans to appeal Lancashire County Council’s Development Control Committee’s decisions last month to refuse planning consent for two applications for temporary shale gas exploration sites. The applications sought planning permission to drill, hydraulically fracture and test the flow of gas from up to four exploration wells on each of two sites, one at Preston New Road and the other at Roseacre Wood.

The company will also be appealing the refusal of a separate planning application to install seismic and ground water monitoring stations around the proposed Preston New Road exploration site. A similar planning application was granted for monitoring works around the proposed Roseacre Wood exploration site, however Cuadrilla will also appeal against certain conditions imposed on this planning consent.

Cuadrilla said in a statement published on its website that from the recommendation given to the Preston New Road exploration site planning application by Lancashire County Council’’s planning officer it was very clear that the proposals were acceptable on all environmental and planning grounds. This included the officer’s conclusions that the proposals were acceptable in relation to noise and visual impacts, which were the reasons given for the refusal of the application by the Committee. The monitoring applications for both Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood were also recommended for approval by the planning officer.

The statement further reads: “The planning officer had recommended refusal of the Roseacre Wood exploration site on traffic grounds and it was refused solely on those grounds. We will review the proposed traffic routing for Roseacre Wood in preparing our appeal. Our preferred route remains a two way route running to and from the A583 at the Clifton junction to the south of the Roseacre Wood exploration site and utilising a route through the Ministry of Defences’ Inskip site, bypassing local villages.”

Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said:
“We have given careful consideration to appeal the planning decisions taken by Lancashire County Council. This is a natural step in the democratic process for deciding any planning application.”

“We recognise that onshore shale gas exploration still feels relatively new in the UK and we remain committed to engaging with local communities to reassure them that exploratory operations can and will be carried out safely and in an environmentally responsible way. I understand that some people would prefer that we did not appeal but I am confident that we will demonstrate to Lancashire and the UK that shale gas exploration and fracking is not only safe but represents a very real opportunity to create jobs, fuel businesses, heat UK homes and stimulate significant local economic growth.”

North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Babs Murphy said: “The delay has already cost our local business community approximately £3.5 million of immediate contracting opportunities as five of six shortlisted contractors operate in Lancashire.

“Contracts that were in the process of being awarded for site construction, access roads and security valued at £2 million, together with work array installation valued at £1.5 million, are now on hold.

“All of these services were within the capability of Lancashire businesses to deliver and five of six shortlisted civil engineering contractors are based in Lancashire.”

“Developing a viable shale industry in Lancashire will have positive economic implications for the region in terms of investment, jobs and supply chain engagement and has the potential to provide security of energy supply to regional manufacturers.”

A North West Energy Task Force spokesperson said: “Today’s announcement is good news for Lancashire’s economy. Our members, who are local business people and residents, support Cuadrilla’s decision to appeal the recent decisions by Lancashire County Council. Clearly there were a number of inconsistencies and flaws in last month’s decision.

“As was made clear in the Planning Officer’s report, Lancashire’s business community continues to support the responsible exploration and development of shale gas because we believe it will generate jobs and much-needed investment in the local supply chain.

“Both individual householders and companies alike have a democratic right to appeal as part of the planning process. NWETF members fully support Cuadrilla’s decision to appeal.

“We urge the County Council to work with Cuadrilla to ensure that they can find the lowest cost option for Lancashire’s taxpayers.”

However, Friends of the Earth’s North West campaigner Furqan Naeem said: “Cuadrilla’s decision to appeal Lancashire’s Council’s resounding no to controversial fracking shows a blatant disregard for the views of local people and local democracy.

“Lancashire councillors and residents have rejected fracking and the Government’s recent report revealing potential negative impacts on everything from the health of residents, to house prices, to climate change shows they were right to do so.

“An appeal will put further pressure on residents who have been fighting to keep their community free from this filthy industry for four years now. Cuadrilla bullied their way into a second chance to make the case for fracking in January, they don’t need a third.

“David Cameron must stick to his commitment that fracking decisions belong with local councils and not allow Lancashire’s decisions to be overturned.”

Cuadrilla announced that the monitoring works appeals will be submitted within the next week. The shale gas exploration site appeals will follow in due course.

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