Council says no to Fylde fracking

Anti-fracking campaigners in Lancashire are celebrating the first success in their bid to oppose Cuadrilla’s plans to hydraulically fracture up to eight shale gas wells in the Fylde.

Fylde Borough Council’s development management committee voted yesterday to object to Cuadrilla’s planning applications to drill at Plumpton Hall Farm, Preston New Road, Westby, and at Roseacre Hall Farm near Treales. It said the countryside around the Fylde was not the right place for an industrial process.

Fylde Borough Council is a statutory consultee – one of several bodies that must be consulted by Lancashire County Council. The final decision rests with the county council, which is expected to discuss the applications in November.

More than 40 members of the public addressed the committee during the hearing, which considered applications to drill and hydraulically fracture up to four exploration wells at each site. Speakers raised concerns about loss of agricultural land, damage to tourism, threats to health, additional traffic and risks to wildlife.

Planning officers argued that the application for Preston New Road should be refused because the site was “in relatively close proximity to residential properties and it is considered that the noise and disturbance from a 24 hour drilling operation would be significant”.

The vote to object came in the early afternoon. Helen Rimmer, of Friends of the Earth, tweeted: “Brilliant news, @fyldecouncil vote to oppose fracking at Preston New Road nr Little Plumpton! Fantastic & informed speeches from residents”

At Roseacre Wood, the planners argued that the application should be refused because “the proposed drilling operation would result in the introduction of considerable traffic onto the rural highway network and would require significant alterations that would detract from the character of the rural area”. The BBC tweeted at 5.26pm that councillors had also voted to object to this application.

Residents Against Fylde Fracking described the votes as “a tremendous victory for Frack Free Lancashire”. The group said: “the public were given a chance a speak at today’s meeting and many took up the opportunity. They were all tremendous and our councillors heard about the health risks, the effects on people’s day to day lives, the lack of regulations, the fears that our water might be contaminated, the environmental impacts and lots more”.

Mark Smith, of engineering consultants Arup, representing Cuadrilla at the hearing, was reported in the Lancashire Evening Post as saying: “We believe our proposals fully accord with national policy. The benefits in our view clearly outweigh the environmental impact. This is an opportunity to drive up job creation and economic opportunity within the Fylde.”

Before the meeting, a Cuadrilla spokesman said: “We are disappointed with the Fylde Borough Council’s officers’ recommendation to refuse our planning applications to drill and hydraulically fracture at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood. We believe that all of the issues that their report raises have already been fully and adequately addressed in our Environmental Statement.

The BBC reported there had been 11,000 responses to Lancashire county Council for the Preston New Road application. The Roseacre consultation runs until tomorrow (September 19th 2014).

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