Lancashire County Council has published the reasons for refusing Cuadrilla’s plans for testing and monitoring at its Grange Road site at Singleton. The decision is expected to be confirmed at a meeting of the council’s development control committee on Wednesday (20th May 2015).
The committee voted narrowly against the application at a meeting in February this year. This was against the advice of planning officers, who had recommended approval.
Cuadrilla wanted to use an existing exploratory borehole to carry out pressure testing and seismic monitoring of the Bowland shale reservoir. It then proposed to plug and abandon the well and restore the site. The application was for a further three years.
There were more than 300 objections to the plans and of the 14 presentations to the committee only three were in favour. Councillors voted by seven votes to six, with one abstention, against the application. They concluded that the impacts were likely to be “so great as to render the proposal unacceptable”.
After February’s refusal, Cuadrilla said it was “perplexed and disappointed” by the decision. It said the refusal was contrary to the advice of planning officers, the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency. The company said the decision left the Grange Hill well in planning limbo.
A report by planning officers for Wednesday’s meeting concludes that the application breaches local planning policy and would adversely affect the landscape character of the area.
Specifically, it said the plans were contrary to:
- Lancashire Minerals and Waste Development Framework Core Strategy, policies CS5, which deals with managing resources
- Lancashire Minerals and Waste Local Plan, Policy DM2, which deals with site allocation
- Fylde Borough Local Plan, Policy SP2, which deals with development in countryside areas.
The application is separate from Cuadrilla’s plans to frack for shale gas at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road. These plans will be decided at four days of meeting in the last full week of June.