Fracking supporter gets official role at Cuadrilla public inquiry

PrintA supporter of Cuadrilla’s plans to frack in Lancashire will be allowed to take an active part in the forthcoming public inquiry into the company’s planning applications.

The North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce (NWLCC) was granted Rule 6 status by the Planning Inspectorate yesterday. This will allow it to be represented by an advocate, present evidence and cross-examine witnesses.

NWLCC has backed Cuadrilla’s planning applications to frack at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road. Its chief executive, Babs Murphy, said a refusal of the applications would suggest that Lancashire was closed for business.

Yesterday’s announcement brings to five the number of groups granted Rule 6 status at the inquiry.

The others are: Roseacre Awareness Group, Preston New Road Action Group, Friends of the Earth, and Treales, Roseacre and Wharles Parish Council. They have all objected to Cuadrilla’s plans.

In June, Lancashire County Council’s development control committee refused both applications to frack and also turned down an application for seismic monitoring stations around the Preston New Road site.

Cuadrilla is appealing against the three planning refusals, as well as conditions attached to the approval of an application for seismic monitoring around Roseacre Wood.

The NWLCC applied for Rule 6 Status on 8th October and a letter seen by DrillOrDrop dated yesterday (19th October 2015) approved the request. The Planning Inspectorate confirmed this morning the names of all Rule 6 groups which will be represented at the inquiry.

Rule 6 status means the five groups will each be regarded as a “Main Party”, alongside Cuadrilla and Lancashire County Council. They will receive copies of the documents from the company and the council and will be entitled to cross-examine their witnesses. The Planning Inspectorate grants Rule 6 status to groups which it believes will “add substantively” to the case being made by the local planning authority or the appellant.

We asked NWLCC to comment this morning but it said no one was available this week.

Claire Stephenson, of the Preston New Road Action Group, said she was not surprised that NWLCC had applied for Rule 6 status. But she said:

“The question must be asked, how Ms Murphy from the Chamber will endeavour to represent viewpoints from over 1,600 businesses she claims to speak for and how many of those people/businesses are actually comfortable being categorised as pro-fracking?”

The NWLCC website has regularly supported Cuadrilla’s activities in Lancashire. It made a statement in August welcoming Cuadrilla’s decision to appeal. In a recent newsletter, Ms Murphy said she was delighted that Cuadrilla would be moving its headquarters to Bamber Bridge, near Preston, early next year. The organisation also welcomed the government’s release of more oil and gas exploration licences.

The inquiry is scheduled to start at 10am on 9th February 2016. It is currently expected to last 12 days and will be held at Blackpool FC Hotel and Conference Centre, Bloomfield Road, Seasiders Way, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY1 6JJ.

Lancashire County Council offers £100,000 contract to defend planning decision

2 replies »

  1. Franking, whether or not it wrecks individual’s lives (see the accounts from Australian smallholding farmers) or pollutes the water supply (see NW States experience US) or sets off little local earthquakes (see earlier Lancashire experiment) will result in further global warming. That’s not acceptable.

  2. The most worrying feature about the time line is the way Osborne has now dictated that while he caps residential rates, thus starving councils of essential revenue from the communities they are elected to serve, councils now have to get more revenue from businesses to make up for the short fall he is creating. Business interests are being exalted above the rights of ordinary people, where locals get one vote businesses get five or more.

    This whole case isn’t about fracking, it is about democracy and a need to stop a US style trashing of local communities and their democratically constituted councils.

    Not only that meanwhile the water sell off circa 2013 Water Act, now renders vulnerable the whole water supply and management in the area as managed by United Utilities. While turds float in lower Windermere around toddlers paddling, and blue algae at the top of the lake with little warning given to dog walkers, along with river beds and waterways running dry or empty down track mountains, and lake levels lowering starving cottage industries around them, and water abstraction licences causing mass exploitation of essential drinking reserves, and recent appalling directive to drink only boiled water, we are witnessing a devil may care assault on community sensibilities where ordinary people are being bludgeoned into doing what the government wants, and to hell with democracy.

    United Utilities is one of the worst offending water businesses in this country, so rolling out a fracking industry which will affect water supplies is heinous to say the least, especially when nuclear is being expanded in the same area and also abstracts high levels of water, as do the drinks industry.

    This situation has a potential to deliver the Nestle debacle where Nestle say water is not a basic human right, and where profiteers are concerned, people are put last on the list of serving needs and to hell with livestock, farming needs, environmental effects and wildlife.

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