Politics

Fracking refusal: What the councillors said about the vote on Preston New Road

HayhurstCllr Paul Hayhurst, Independent County Councillor, Fylde West, member of development control committee

Last week we were put under intense pressure which was giving us no option but to approve the application. We had further information over the weekend and we have been able to turn it down. It [vote in favour of refusal] was more than what I had thought. Last week we would have had the same vote if we had not had the same pressure put on us.

It was not about taking a stand against fracking. I am not against fracking but I think you cannot agree to fracking 250m from where people live who have health problems. They want to move to places where their health problems will not be exacerbated by fracking but they cannot sell their homes because house prices have plummeted because of this application.

The legal advice all said it was us [councillors] that make these decisions, not officers. It has been a big success for democracy. The advice we received over the weekend was that there were reasons to refuse. We feel we have strong grounds to turn it down. This development should not be in the open countryside.

They [Cuadrilla] will probably appeal but that is up to Cuadrilla. And the end of the day it is up to Cuadrilla to decide.

Liz OadesCllr Liz Oakes, Independent county councillor for Fylde East

I am pleased that the drill site at Roseacre Wood was refused and I am extremely pleased for the residents of Preston New Road. It shows democracy works. I am deeply disappointed at the approval of the monitoring sites at Roseacre Wood. We will look into that vote again. Had the committee been in possession of the legal advice that they had this morning I think it would have been a different decision.

Cllr Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for planning at Lancashire County Council and member of the development control committee

This was a massive decision. It has been one of the biggest that members and the authority have ever taken. This has gone on for a very long time and people have had to live for a long period of uncertainty.

The decision was not about fracking. If another planning application for fracking comes before the council we will consider it on its merits in the same way.

Marcus Johnstone - CopyAsked if this would discourage shale gas companies, he said: My job is not to encourage industry but only to ensure planning applications are dealt with fairly in the way of planning law that can be sustained.

There has been a certain amount of disturbance [around the council]. A bus lane was closed. People arriving at work had to be checked. The car park is full of police vans. For many hundreds of people who work here who have nothing to do with planning they can get on with their ordinary lives.

The protesters have a democratic right to be there [outside the council building]. They have conducted themselves very well. It has been an entirely peaceful protest and with some humour. It is a good day for democracy.

Asked if it had been a good day for Lancashire County Council, he said: “I think so. It has been a very difficult decision. Everyone who wanted to have a say had a say. We looked at the application incredibly carefully. I do not think it could have been determined with more effort.

Asked if it was a responsible decision, he said: “I voted against the refusal, personally but the majority of the committee did not agree with me. The committee has found clear grounds for turning it down. The fact that I am a cabinet member and the committee disagreed with me makes it a good day for democracy.

Asked if the reasons for refusal were sustainable, he said: “I respect the committee’s decision.”

Cuadrilla will have to make a decision on appeal. We will cross that bridge when we come to it. It is going to be down to the people who voted for it.

Full story

What the application supporters said

What the application opponents said

Scenes from outside County Hall

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