As a government decision to have the final say on Cuadrilla’s fracking appeals made the headlines last week (see DrillOrDrop report), another appeal involving the company got underway more quietly.
Cuadrilla Bowland Ltd is challenging the refusal of planning permission for the use of its well site at Singleton, in the Fylde area of Lancashire, for pressure and seismic monitoring.
The appeal is to be decided by written representations and there will be no hearings or public inquiry.
Today people who had said they wanted to take part in the appeal received an official letter, dated 27th November.
Cuadrilla applied in May 2014 to extend the use of its Grange Road Exploration site for three more years. The company proposed to install seismic and pressure monitors and then abandon the well and restore the site.
Planning officers at Lancashire County Council recommended the application be approved.
But there were more than 300 objections and at a meeting of the council’s Development Control Committee in February 2015, 14 people spoke against the plans.
The committee refused the application on the grounds that retention of the site would be visually unacceptable and would adversely affect the landscape character of the area.
Planning permission had originally been granted in April 2010 to drill and frack an exploratory borehole at the Grange Road site. A condition on the permission required the operations to be completed and the site restored within 18 months of work starting.
Cuadrilla drilled the well in May 2011 but it could not carry out hydraulic fracturing because the UK moratorium on fracking was in force.
The company applied in December 2011 to extend the time period until 2013 to allow fracking and testing of the well.
Cuadrilla later confirmed that it no longer intended to frack the Grange Road well.
When the company’s application for a second time extension was turned down in February 2015, it said it was “perplexed and disappointed”.
A webpage for the appeal shows the start date as 20th November. The Planning Inspectorate has set a deadline of Christmas Day for comments from people and organisations who want to take part in the appeal.
Cuadrilla and Lancashire County Council have until 8th January 2016 to submit their final comments.
This is the fifth appeal involving Cuadrilla’s plans in the Fylde area of Lancashire.
Four appeals will be considered at a public inquiry due to start on 9th February 2016 in Blackpool. Two of them challenge the refusal of permission to drill and frack up to four wells each at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road. Another appeals against the refusal of permission for seismic monitoring around Preston New Road. The fourth is an appeal against a planning condition imposed on the permission for a monitoring scheme around Roseacre Wood.
Last week, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, announced he would make the final decision on these four appeals. Under what is known as the “recovery procedure”, an inspector at the public inquiry will make a recommendation to Mr Clark.
Earlier this month, it emerged that Cuadrilla was abandoning its site at Becconsall, where it received permission in September 2014 for a similar scheme to Grange Hill. The company said it could not secure all the equipment needed by the date required in the planning permission. DrillOrDrop report