Live news as it happens at the fourth 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
The inquiry ends for today and resumes on Tuesday 16th February at 9.30am
Harm to the landscape
Ashley Bowes, representing Preston New Road Action Group, begins questioning Cuadrilla’s landscape expect, Andrew Tempany.
Mr Bowes raised the Lancashire Landscape Strategy which said vertical features, such as pylons, were negative pressures on the landscape. He put it to Mr Tempany that the proposed drilling scheme had the characteristics of a “negative pressure” identified in the strategy. Mr Tempany replied: “In part, yes”.
Mr Bowes asked: “You accept there would be temporary landscape harm?”
Mr Tempany replied: “Temporary and localised, yes.”
Mr Bowes asked: “You accept there will be temporary visual harm?”
Mr Tempany replied: “I have accepted there will be temporary visual harm. I have stated that there will be some significant adverse impacts”.
Measuring landscape effects
Mr Evans, for Lancashire County Council, asked Andrew Tempany, Cuadrilla’s landscape expert, about the different assessments on the impact of drilling at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.
Mr Evans said it was “hardly tenable” for Cuadrilla to conclude that the addition of fracking and drilling equipment made no change to the character assessment of the landscape.
Mr Tempany, who has worked on the Cuadrilla proposals since November 2015, said the methodology used to come to this conclusion was not the one he would have used.
Mr Evans said the character assessment came to a different conclusion to the visual impact assessment. He said:
“This is not a methodology for a lay, or even professional, person to grasp when they come up with such wildly different outcomes.”
Mr Tempany said the two assessments were looking at different things but he accepted they were related.
Mr Evans pressed Mr Tempany on whether a 53m rig would be out of character. Mr Tempany replied: “Not in the context of pylons”,which he said affected the Preston New Road site already.
Mr Evans said lighting could have an urbanising effect on landscape. But he pointed out that Cuadrilla’s landscape and visual impacts had not taken into account lighting from the proposed fracking sites.
Mr Tempany said he had based his judgement on the environmental impact statement.
Inquiry breaks until 1.45pm
Questions to landscape witness
Alan Evans, representing Lancashire County Council is questioning Cuadrilla’s landscape witness, Andrew Tempany.
Mr Evans said the proposed drilling pads at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road would measure 144m x 166m. He put it to Mr Tempany that this was bigger than the pitch at Blackpool Football Club, where the inquiry was taking place. Mr Tempany said he would have to check this.
Mr Evans referred to Cuadrilla’s environmental statement, which said the area of the proposed sites lacked tranquillity, compared with other flood plain areas. He put it to Mr Tempany that this was a relative, not absolute measure. Mr Tempany agreed.
Cuadrilla’s environmental statement suggested there might be an impact of the proposed sites on tranquillity but this would be limited to areas within 1km.
“We must assume there is some tranquillity at the sites”, Mr Evans said.
Mr Tempany said the statement was referring to landscape character areas, not the sites.
How many rigs on site?
Alan Evans, barrister for Lancashire County Council, challenged Cuadrilla’s landscape witness on whether the 53m drilling rig would be erect on the sites at the same time as the 36m coiled tubing rig.
Andrew Tempany, a senior landscape architect with Arup, had said the two rig would not be erect at the same time. But he conceded that the shorter rig would be erected during flow testing.
Mr Evans said the proposed work programme showed that Cuadrilla intended to drill the third well at the same time as flow testing well 2.
Mr Evans asked: “On the evidence you have given, is it that both would be erect together?”
Mr Tempany replied: “I would need to check that”.
Inquiry resumes after break
“Limited landscape impact”
Cuadrilla landscape’s expert, Andrew Tempany, tells the inquiry the proposed drilling and fracking at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood will have limited significant adverse impacts on the landscape.
He said the effects would be intermittent and temporary and would affect only a small number of people.
The exploration and monitoring schemes would not “materially affect the key landscape characteristics” of undulating fields and hedgerows, he said.
Mr Tempany, a senior landscape architect with Arup, said there were “urbanising influences” on both sites. These included pylon lines and the National Savings office block at Preston New Road, as well as the road itself and the M55 motorway.
Roseacre Wood was more rural but this meant fewer people would be affected, he said. The masts at Inskip Airfield detracted from the rural character of this area.
But he added that the landscape impact of the plans was not a valid reason for refusing the appeals, he said.
Fracking effects on landscape
Cuadrilla landscape’s expert Andrew Tempany begins to gives evidence.
He tells the inquiry the landscapes at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road could not be considered to be regionally distinctive or rare. But he said both were likely to be valued locally.
Mr Tempany said few people would experience significant visual intrusion from the proposed operations because the sites were screened by undulating land and hedgerows.
He said there would be little greater impact on the landscape from a 53m drilling rig or one measuring 35m.
Inquiry inspector questions noise expert
The inquiry inspector, Wendy McKay, asks questions of Cuadrilla’s noise expert, Dr David Hiller.
Ms McKay asks Dr Hiller to describe how sound reduction proposals have changed since the applications were first made.
Dr Hiller said there was no proposed noise mitigation in the environmental statement when the application was submitted.
“Having the benefit of the study done at Horse Hill [an oil site in Surrey], we looked at what we could do to reduce noise.”
Following discussions with Lancashire County Council, the company then proposed surrounding each site with a 4m noise barrier.
Dr Hiller said Cuadrilla later looked at what more could be done. A 7m accoustic barrier around the rig would reduce noise by a further 3 deciibels. He added:
“It has engineering challenges to create something of that height that can be moved if the rig moves, can withstand the wind and allow the process to operate safely and efficiently.”
Ms McKay asked Dr Hiller if there would be 14 months of continuous drilling at each site. He said he expected the first well would be drilled, for about five months, followed by fracturing for two-three months. The next of the four boreholes at each site would then be drilled, he said.
Dr Hiller told the inquiry inspector he did not think reduced noise limits were necessary at weekends. There would be some low frequency noise, he said, but this would be “covered adequately” by standard assessments.
Ms McKay asked Dr Hiller how noise modelling took account of prevailing wind. Dr Hiller said he had assumed wind would be blowing out from the source of the noise.
Cuadrilla’s barrister re-examines noise witness
Inquiry opens with Nathalie Lieven reviewing the evidence of Cuadrilla’s noise expert, Dr David Hiller.
She asked Dr Hiller to respond to criticism that Cuadrilla had used British Standard BS5228, which opponents regarded as inappropriate, to assess noise at the sites. He said if he had used the alternative standard (BS4122) he would have come to the same conclusions on the noise levels at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood. Dr Heller said BS5228 was more appropriate than BS4122.
Ms Lieven asked Dr Hiller what action could Lancashire County Council take if Cuadrilla breached planning conditions on noise. Dr Hiller said the council could take out an injunction to stop work at the site.
She also asked whether the benefit of extra sound proofing should be considered when deciding whether this would be an unreasonable burden on Cuadrilla. Yesterday Dr Hiller said the reduction in noise levels would be 3 decibels and would be barely perceptible. This morning he said:
“The cost complexity of the burden must be weighed against the benefits.”
Dr Hiller defended Cuadrilla’s noise survey. He said a survey carried out for the Preston New Road Action Group should not rely on lowest recorded figures as a typical assessment of night time noise.
Dr Hiller said a complaint about noise from the Horse Hill site in Surrey was not attributable to drilling. Horse Hill used a drill that might go to the Lancashire sites if they were approved.