Live news as it happens at the second day of the inquiry at Blackpool Football Club into Cuadrilla’s fracking plans in the Fylde area of Lancashire. Check our Inquiry page for more information, posts and links
Inquiry closes for today. It resumes at 9.30am tomorrow.
Inspector’s questions on planning
The inquiry inspector, Wendy McKay, asks questions to Mark Smith, Cuadrilla’s planning witness, on national and local planning policy. Ms McKay also asked for information on the distance of the sites from geological faults and the rock types into which the monitoring wells would be sunk. Mr Smith was not able to answer but Ms Lieven, Cuadrilla’s QC, said this information would be provided.
Mark Smith said he would also provide information on the maximum height on shipping containers on the proposed site.
Mr Smith said Cuadrilla looked at existing sites, including Anna’s Road and Preese Hall, as potential places to frack before deciding on Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.. He said there were “issues around releasing information” about potential sites. “We didn’t want to raise concerns in local communities”, he said.
Cuadrilla’s barrister reviews evidence on planning
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, reviews the planning evidence with the company’s planning witness, Mark Smith, of Arup.
Mr Smith said Cuadrilla had identified water treatment facilities in the north of England but, because of commercial constraints, they could not be identified. “When there are no longer commercial constraints these treatment facilities will be made available to the public”, Mr Smith said.
Ms Lieven tells the inquiry the live feed of the hearing is down because the host website has been hit by a cyber attack.
Impact of fracking on tourism
The inquiry hears that there were concerns in Roseacre that Cuadrilla’s proposed fracking site would damage the tourism industry.
Mark Smith, Cuadrilla’s planning witness, said in his evidence that there may be job losses in tourism but these would be short-term and this was speculative and unquantifiable.
Robin Green, the barrister for Roseacre Awareness Group and Treales, Wharles & Roseacre Parish Council, asked him why the losses would be short term. Mr Smith said:
“In the longer term, when the industry is established and people re aware of the actual impacts, tourism will recover.We have assessed and evaluated the impacts to be minor and negligible”
Mr Green suggested:
“Come to Lancashire, home of fracking. That will have the tourists flocking”
He put it to Mr Smith:
“There is no evidence that the public are moving towards an acceptance of fracking as an industry.”
Mr Smith relied: “I don’t have the knowledge”
Mr Green said: “As a tourism draw, fracking is unlikely to be up there”.
Mr Smith replied: “I have not seen the evidence of that”
Mr Green: “Would you accept that perception is an important part of where people choose to go for their holidays”.
Mr Smith: “Yes I would”.
Roseacre residents question Cuadrilla
Robin Green, the barrister for Roseacre Awareness Group and Treales, Wharles & Roseacre Parish Council, questions Mark Smith, Cuadrilla’s planning witness.
Mr Green put it to Mr Smith that Cuadrilla had a licence area of more than 1,000 sq km and it could have chosen sites from anywhere within an area of 100 sq km where it had undertaken 3D seismic surveys.
Mr Smith said the sites had been chosen because the geological conditions were suitable.
Mr Green suggested that a planning authority would find it hard to turn down an application for production if the exploration sites had been approved. He added:
“Because there is possibility that production may ensue it is important the right sites are chosen.”
Mr Smith replied:
“It is right for exploration that the right sites are identified.”
Ministerial statement supporting shale gas
The inquiry considers a written statement by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in September 2015 about the government’s support for shale gas.
Friends of the Earth’s barrister, Estelle Dehon, said there was no consultation on the statement nor a debate in parliament. She put it to Cuadrilla’s planning witness, Mark Smith:
“Those two facts go to the weight that should be given to the statement.”
Mr Smith replied: “I don’t believe that, no.”
Costs and benefits of fracking applications
After lunch, Friends of the Earth’s barrister, Estelle Dehon, tells the inquiry the Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood exploration sites would create a total of 22 net jobs. This took into account any benefits from spending locally, she said.
Mark Smith, Cuadrilla’s planning witness agreed that staff employed locally would be mainly for cleaning and security jobs and possibly for decommissioning of the wells. Staff employed on fracking and drilling would come from outside the area. Cuadrilla did not quantify any effects on jobs beyond Lancashire, Mr Smith agreed.
The inquiry resumes
Inquiry breaks for lunch
Impacts versus benefits
Cuadrilla’s planning witness, Mark Smith, is questioned on the balance between impacts and benefits by Estelle Dehon, barrister for Friends of the Earth.
Mr Smith tells the inquiry:
“It is only through exploration and testing will those potential substantial benefits be realised and that is recognised in the government statement. One of those benefits is economic growth.”
“There is no certainty but if those benefits do arise they would be substantial to the economy.”
Health impacts of fracking plans
Estelle Dehon, barrister for Friends of the Earth, begins to question Cuadrilla’s planning witness, Mark Smith, on public health.
Ms Dehon asks him whether adverse effect on public health are a material consideration for the Inspector to look at. Mr Smith agrees. He says Cuadrilla addressed health issues in the environmental statement of the planning applications.
Ms Dehon put it to Mr Smith that research found people were experiencing sleep disturbance and depression at the planning stage of fracking in Lancashire. Mr Smith said Cuadrilla acknowledged people were suffering from anxiety and had proposed measures to address this.
Capacity of waste treatment works
Friends of the Earth moves on to question Cuadrilla’s planning witness, Mark Smith, on waste.
Estelle Dehon, for Friends of the Earth, says the decision-maker on the plans is required to be satisfied about the disposal of waste water from the proposed development.
Mr Smith said waste permits had been issued for the proposed fracking sites and so the inquiry should assume that the environmental permit regime would work effectively.
Ms Dehon put it to Mr Smith that if Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road operated together they would generate waste fluid that would amount to 65% of the UK waste treatment capacity. She said:
“Is it your evidence that the inspector should ignore this?”
Mr Smith said: “I am not the expert on this. I will need to get back to you on this”.
Ms Dehon said a Friends of the Earth witness would say the waste generated from the sites would have an “identified substantial impact” on UK waste treatment capacity. She asked:
“On your evidence, is the inspector to close her eyes on the wider matter of waste treatment capacity?”
Mr Smith replied:
“In terms of waste capacity, that has been dealt with by the issuing of environmental permits.”
Paris Climate Agreement
Estelle Dehon, for Friends of the Earth, asked Mark Smith, for Cuadrilla, about the Paris Climate Agreement. She put it to Mr Smith that the Paris Climate Agreement was a material consideration of the inquiry. Mr Smith agreed.
After a break, Estelle Dehon, barrister for Friends of the Earth, questions Cuadrilla’s planning witness, Mark Smith, on the implications of the fracking sites for improving energy security.
Ms Dehon said exploration would not lead to benefits for energy security. It was only production that would do that.
Mr Smith said: “You can only get to production when you have done exploration and testing.”
Estelle Dehon, barrister for Friends of the Earth, questions Cuadrilla’s planning witness, Mark Smith, on the climate change implications of the fracking sites.
Mr Smith says a ministerial statement supporting shale gas made in September 2015, (after the Cuadrilla applications were refused) did away with the need to assess grreenhouse gas emissions for gas projects.
He said UK policy was now that these projects would contribute to achieving UK climate change targets because the government regarded gas as the cleanest fossil fuel.
Ms Dehon said the Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood fracking schemes would release 236,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This compared with 118,000 tonnes for a peat moss scheme at Irlam. This had been refused by the Secretary of State on climate change grounds in 2012.
Mr Smith said the current Secretary of State’s approach on climate change was set out in the ministerial statement made in September 2015, which said gas was the cleanest fossil fuel and would help the UK move to a low carbon energy supply..
Ms Dehon put it to Mr Smith that the ministerial statement did not seek to displace the statutory duties of the Climate Change Act.
Nathalie Lieven, Cuadrilla’s barrister, said the question was not appropriate for Mr Smith. But the inspector, Wendy McKay, overruled her.
Mr Smith replied that the statement did not displace the legislation.
Ms Dehon put it to Mr Smith that these duties were material considerations in planning matters. Mr Smith agreed.
Inquiry opens for second day.