Breaking: Minister to decide Cuadrilla’s Lancashire fracking appeals

Greg ClarkThe Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is to decide Cuadrilla’s appeals against the refusal of planning permission for fracking at two sites near Blackpool.

The news came in letters today to the company and Lancashire County Council. They said the Secretary of State, Greg Clark, would rule on the appeals, instead of a planning inspector, as had been planned.

The letter said this was because the proposals were for shale gas and were regarded as “development of major importance”. They had “more than local significance”.

The letter, signed by Mark Boulton on behalf of Mr Clark, said the appeals raised “important or novel issues of development control and/or legal difficulties”.

In June Lancashire County Council turned down Cuadrilla’s applications to frack up to four wells each at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road. It also refused Cuadrilla’s application for a monitoring scheme at Preston New Road.

Cuadrilla appealed against the refusals of planning permission and against conditions imposed on the permission granted for a monitoring scheme at Roseacre Wood.

A public inquiry, lasting 12 days, is scheduled to start in Blackpool on 9th February 2016. There is nothing in the letter to suggest it will now not go ahead. But the letter explained that the decision would be made differently. The letter said:

“This means that instead of writing a decision, the Inspector will prepare a report and recommendation, which will be forwarded to the Secretary of State”.

It confirmed that the decision affected both the fracking appeals at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road and the appeals over the monitoring applications.

The letter continued:

“The reason for this direction is because the drilling appeals (3134385 and 3134386) involve proposals for exploring and developing shale gas which amount to proposals for development of major importance having more than local significance and proposals which raise important or novel issues of development control, and/or legal difficulties.

“The monitoring appeals (3130923 and 3130924) are being considered at the same time as the drilling appeals and will be most efficiently and effectively determined by the Secretary of State. These two appeals are therefore being recovered because of the particular circumstances.”

The power of the Secretary of State to decide an appeal comes in the Town and Country Planning Action 1990.

The decision has been sent to the Inspector, Cuadrilla and the local planning authority, the letter said.

Reaction from Barbara Richardson, of Roseacre Awareness Group

Reaction from Friends of the Earth, Preston New Road Group and Cuadrilla Resources

This report is part of DrillOrDrop’s Rig Watch project. Rig Watch receives funding from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. More details here

Categories: Politics

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15 replies »

  1. Excellent news. I wonder why this took so long. The science is clear, as was confirmed by the Environment agency. It’s safe, so why import gas from Russia when we can generate low carbon energy securely, help the balance of payments, and create taxes/jobs/economic activity with no risk to the environment? It’s a nationally important no brainer really!

  2. Why are large companies allowed so much power? It ought to be “No Contest” with all the gas polluted water tables split asunder by these frackers no just here but world wide, surely the evidence is plain for all to see – STOP FRACKING – but somehow the governments see the company’s science and all is ok but independent reports and HARD evidence are ignored!!!??? Seems to me that someone is in someone else’s pocket – for what ever reason ……….. So its not just public opinion against frackers its the entire global population; some of whom are only just waking up to the realization that fracking is ruing OUR home, OUR PLANET – it’s the only one we have so dont mess with her, she will bite back!!

  3. This is clearly of national significance in term of security supply and economic competitiveness. It is also national strategic important to wean of supply from dodgy ME countries.
    This should have been done a long time ago.

    • Cuadrilla are a minnow . It’s the green movement which wants to drive them out of business so the license falls into the hands of a large company .

      You know better than to propagate scare stories about water table damage .

      Seriously , Roger , go out and have a beer and be happy for those people who will get jobs and that it might help stop people freezing to death .

  4. Previous post (by Anon!) is wrong on every point. The more INDEPENDENT science that is carried out the more fracking is shown to be unsafe. New York banned fracking based on the resounding amount of science which has shown fracking to be inherently detrimental at best.The Australian Government is in the process of buying back the licences it initially issued to fracking companies because of the unacceptable impacts it has had on the communities. The vast majority of our gas does not come from Russia. Fracking is not low carbon and the methane leakage and flaring have extremely long term negative impacts on the environment. The taxes, jobs and economic activity would be very short term as would the gas itself. Many jobs would also be lost in tourism (who wants to look at a fracking rig) and farming. Local communities would also see the industrialisation of their surroundings.Investing in renewables would be a far more meaningful and long term strategy. It would bring many more permanent and UK based jobs. Even the fracking companies themselves would not state that fracking poses “No risk to the environment”. I would agree that it is a no brainer because it has no future for a country which needs to move away from fossil fuels.

  5. Lancashire people who have fought fracking for more than four years should be proud of their achievement because they have scared the Tory govt so much that they have had to resort to tyrannical means to push this toxic industry forward. The Govt cannot risk the Planning Inspectorate finding in favour of Lancashire County Councils decision to reject fracking and protect its people. So they have ‘called in ‘ the decision – removed democracy and local decisions from the equation and backed their buddies Cuadrilla. Typically of any Govt they have chosen a time when the media focus is on Syria and IS, hoping that this news will slip through unnoticed. But it will not . We will make sure of that.

  6. “Tyrannical means”, goodness me what a load of tripe! The government is doing what it is supposed to do, and was elected to do, and that is govern……….govern for the best interests of entire nation. It is about time this natural, safe and cost effective resource was developed.

    Energy independence is a cornerstone of any progressive government, in any country. It keeps the lights on, people employed and energy costs down. Money in our pockets, not those pockets of ME countries.

    Go shale!

    • This is not governance this is dictatorship. 76% did not vote for the government in the general election. A massive majority of people are anti fracking in the areas affected. The whole system is wrong. I wonder if there is a hidden agenda eg nuclear waste disposal?

    • It is not democracy if the democratically elected local government is being sidestepped in order to force through the interests of people from outside of the area at the detriment to the local populace.

      Energy independence was developing until the government effectively stymied the booming renewables industry costing jobs in the sector and financially hurting us as energy companies redirected billions of pounds of investment money to countries friendly to renewable energy projects. The jobs (which will go to imported skilled labour, not to untrained local people) oft touted with fracking do not come close to offsetting the sustainable long term employment opportunities which the renewables inidustry were bringing. We have lost our lead in that market now, because the government put the brakes on at a crucial moment. We could have seen huge exports in our technological innovation, and hi-tech engineering, but that boat has sailed now that the Tories have insisted that our only option is to turn back the clock and rely on fossil fuels. Our commitments to international climate agreements are going out of the window too.

      Fracking? It’s desperation, clinging to the notion of infinite supply from a finite source. The only people really in favour already have vested financial interests, it won’t bring any positives for anyone else in the fracked areas. No extra money, no money off our energy bills, but massive extra demands on our council tax to maintain the legacy of industrial decay once the frackers move on and abandon old wells. 1 in 3 and sometimes as many as 1 in 2 aging wells are known to leak in those countries who have developed the fracking industry. And we’ll be paying for that for eternity. How is that money in our pockets? As usual – privatise the profits and nationalise the losses.

  7. I’m really happy for the people of Lancashire .

    This industry and jobs will be transformational for families in the vicinity .

    It’s a shame the local council was not up to it .

    They will regret their mistake of declining to take part in this .

  8. Why the anti Fracker think this is tyranny when it applies to fracking where if it was wind or solar farm or quarry development that the Minister called in they call it democracy. These are based on national security and strategy of energy supply that has serious implications for local and national economy and our foreign policy when it came to the ME countries we have to deal with and make European a safer place. Just like their stripe about problems with intrusive view and noise levels the anti Fracker never see beyond their self interest or listen to reasons.

    • Government has introduced a special veto for local people to prevent the construction of wind turbines. “The prime minister feels that it is very important that local voters are taken into account when it comes to windfarms and that is why new legislation will be brought forward, so that if people don’t want windfarms in their local areas they will be able to stop them.” Fracking is treated differently with the government’s new planning guidance making these developments almost impossible to refuse. Planners judging fracking applications are forbidden to consider alternatives to oil and gas. There will be “no standard minimum separation distance”, which means that a fracking rig could be erected close to your house. And they “should give great weight to the benefits of minerals extraction, including to the economy”. Phrases such as National security are designed to inject fear into the debate and are meaningless. Fracking is not economically viable, the impacts to the environment and health are unacceptable and it provides no answers to a modern countries energy needs which must be built around resources which do not involve fossil fuels. Not going down the fracking route is nothing to do with self interest. On the contrary it is about considering the worlds need as a whole i.e. Climate Change.

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