Regulation

Council offers £100,000 contract to defend Lancashire fracking decisions

LCC

Lancashire County Council is offering £100,000 for three month’s work to defend its refusal of planning permissions to Cuadrilla to frack in the Fylde.

The contract, advertised last week, will run from 1st December 2015 to 3rd March 2016.

An advertisement on the Government’s website ContractsFinder describes the job as:

“The preparation and presentation of evidence, at a public enquiry, to defend LCC’s reasons for refusing planning permission for the development of a site for the exploration and appraisal of shale gas.”

Cuadrilla has appealed against three refusals of planning permission and the condition on one consent. All the cases relate to the company’s plans to frack for shale gas at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road in the Fylde. All four appeals will be decided at a public inquiry, scheduled to start in February 2016 in Blackpool.

Decision background

In June 2015, Lancashire County Council’s development control committee followed the advice of planning officers and refused the application for fracking at Roseacre Wood on traffic grounds. It also approved a seismic monitoring scheme for Roseacre Wood.

But the committee overruled planners by refusing the applications for fracking and a seismic monitoring scheme at Preston New Road.

During the meeting, the council’s legal officer, Jill Anderson, said there were no substantive reasons to refuse the Preston New Road fracking application. But legal opinion by Friends of the Earth and the Preston New Road Action Group argued it could be refused on the grounds of noise and visual impact.

Cllr Marcus Johnston, a member of the committee and the cabinet member for planning, said if the application were refused committee members were likely to have to give evidence at a planning inquiry. The committee voted by nine to three, with two abstentions, to refuse the application on the grounds that it breached policies in the Lancashire Waste and Minerals Plan and the Fylde Local Plan.

Members also voted by ten votes to four to refuse the Preston New Road seismic monitoring scheme. They said this application would have an industrialising effect on the countryside.

Details of appeals

The public inquiry is due to start at 10am on 9th February at Blackpool FC Hotel and Conference Centre, Bloomfield Road, Seasiders Way, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY1 6JJ.

People who want to comment on the fracking appeals have until Friday 30th October. Comments can be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate’s website, by email to leanne.palmer@pins.gsi.gov.uk or in writing to Leanne Palmer, the Planning Inspectorate, Room 3/26, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Bristol, BS1 6PN.

The details of the appeals can be found by following the links:

  • Refusal of permission to drill, frack and test up to four wells at Roseacre Wood (APP/Q2371/W/15/3134385) Appeal link
  • Refusal of permission to drill, frack and test up to four wells at Preston New Road (APP/Q2371/W/15/3134386) Appeal link
  • Refusal of permission for a monitoring array at and around Preston New Road (APP/Q2371/W/15/3130923) Appeal link
  • Conditions attached to the approval of permission for a monitoring array at and around Roseacre Wood (APP/Q2371/W/15/3130924) Appeal link

A timetable for the appeals and public inquiry can be seen here.

Opponents of fracking in the Fylde have campaigns to raise money to fight the planning appeals. Details are at 38 Degrees crowdfunding, Preston New Road Action Group and Roseacre Awareness Group.

Judicial review

Roseacre Awareness Group, which opposed Cuadrilla’s fracking plans, is seeking a judicial review of the approval of permission for the monitoring array at Roseacre Wood.

The group’s written application was refused but it has the chance to put its case before a judge at the Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand on Thursday this week (22nd October).

6 replies »

  1. I could possibly see why the contract value is so high, its an impossible job. When the planners have said no reason to block & the legal officer say no reason to block, then coming up with an excuse more than “we fell for Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth’s scaremongering” is pretty hard.

    • The only thing falling is the prospects for Cuadrilla which has just parted company with its Chief Financial Officer. Presumably he knew how dire the situation is, prompted no doubt by the departure of Centrica, Cuadrilla’s one time main investor, from all exploration and development. What a shame the balloon was torn before the nudge nudge wink wink hedge fund carpetbaggers got the chance to inflate it. A crowdfunding effort is underway for one way tickets to Texas.

  2. This was a decision reached after much consideration and after listening to four days of evidence. Unfortunately lawyers do not come cheap. But compared to the potential negative impacts – which no one has appropriately studied i.e. carrying out a full economic impact assessment – on how this could affect indirectly farming and tourism – then this might be money well spent. This industry has no planning policy, strategy or structure and is being imposed upon communities in an ad hoc fashion. No one is considering the wider implications in any detail – the impact on infrastructure, ability to deal with contaminated waste etc etc. There are many unanswered questions. No wonder the council rejected these applications. If a test frack went ahead and the flow test was successful the whole system would go into meltdown because the wider implications have just not been thought through or appropriately dealt with. Plain stupid.

  3. If any compensation is to be paid for the unlawful rejection of the planning application then the councilors should be liable for it themselves , not the residents of Lancashire .

    Let’s get frac’ing .

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