Live news as it happens at the fifth 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 adjourns for the day
The inquiry resumes at 10am tomorrow (Wednesday 16th February)
“No reason to refuse appeal”
Johnny Ojeil, Cuadrilla’s transport witnesses, sums up his evidence on the impact of the proposed fracking site at Roseacre Wood. He tells the inquiry:
“I conclude with regard to traffic impacts that, from the evidence supplied in this proof and work carried out to date, there is no valid reason for refusal of the appeal.”
Lancashire County Council refused the application at Roseacre Wood in June 2015 on the advice of its highways department that it would have an unacceptable impact on highway safety.
Mr Ojeil said:
“The proposed traffic management plan addresses the concerns raised by the highway officers and covers all matters raises in the officer’s response.”
He said an audit of the preferred route had shown that increases in heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) visiting Roseacre Wood would not lead to safety problems on the roads.
Mr Ojeil added:
“It is important to recognise that the highway authority’s objection focusses mainly on a 2.8 mile stretch and when broken down the planning authority admit in their officer report that it is mainly around Wharles which is in length 1 mile only.”
He said lorries travelling through Wharles would number only a few a week on average and this was not enough to cause any safety issues to other road users. The increase in traffic would be “generally part of seasonal variation on any road stretch in that location.”
The peak increases in lorries, capped at 25 in and 25 out a day would for a period of 12 weeks out of the total length of the application of six years.
Cuadrilla’s highways evidence begins
Johnny Ojeil, Cuadrilla’s transport witness, begins giving evidence to the inquiry on the impact of the proposed fracking site at Roseacre Wood on traffic and highways.
In June 2015, Lancashire County Council refused Cuadrilla’s application at Roseacre Wood on traffic grounds, arguing that it would have an unacceptable impact on highway safety and road users.
Mr Ojeil described the company’s proposed route to Roseacre Wood.
“The route starts via the M55 motorway junction 3 with traffic accessing the site heading along the A585/ A583 before heading left into Clifton via Clifton Lane, Station Road, Dagger Road, Salwick Road, Inskip Road, DHFCS Inskip Rd (private road available via an agreement within the DHFCS site), and across Roseacre Road.”
He said during peaks of traffic to Roseacre Wood, vehicles would use a route through the Inskip site. During lower volumes, vehicles would use a route through Wharles to Roseacre Wood. He said there would be a daily cap of 50 two-way lorry movements (25 in and 25 out) a day.
Mr Ojeil said Cuadrilla proposed to create five passing places on the route at Dagger Road. Three would create spaces 5.5m wide. Two would be 6.5m wide, he said. Each passing place could be viewed from the previous and next one. Mr Ojeil said:
“I believe that two HGVs [heavy goods vehicles] crossing at 5.5m can be achieved, albeit with slow moving vehicles.”
Mr Ojeil said there had been an audit of the route through Inskip and Wharles to Roseacre Wood. He said:
“I conclude that the findings of the safety audit are of a minor nature and more importantly our subsequent reply in addressing matters raised shows that this route can be utilised for this temporary planning permission without any adverse effects prevailing.”
He said the risk of flooding at Inskip, forcing HGVs to travel through Wharles, was low.
Broughton alternative route dropped
Mr Ojeil said Cuadrilla had developed an alternative route through Broughton. But this had been rejected by Lancashire County Council and the company was not proposing to argue in favour of the rotue at the inquiry.
Layby parking for lorries
Mr Ojeil added that the proposed traffic management plan would organise HGV arrivals and departures. He also gave details of HGV parking:
“Also a holding area along the layby located upon the A583 is proposed in addition to using technology to control movements in and out of the site.”
He said: a survey of the use of the layby found that over two weeks it was fully occupied for only 25 minutes.
“I conclude There is spare capacity at that location to accommodate HGVs.”
Mr Ojeil said the plan would impose speed limits on HGVs . He was asked what would happen if the drivers broke the speed limit. He said there would be a series of warnings. But he added:
“I would expect Cuadrilla to terminate that contract or ask for the removal of that driver.”
Inspector’s questions on colour and sound barrier
The inquiry inspector, Wendy McKay, asks question to Cuadrilla’s on landscape
Ms McKay wanted to know what colour the rig and other equipment would be.
Nathalie Lieven, the QC for Cuadrila, said the company would be willing to accept a planning condition on the colour of the accoustic fence. But she said:
“There is a problem of accepting a condition on the drilling rig. It if is a hired rig, the industry norm is that the rig is painted in the owners’ colour.”
Andrew Tempany, Cuadrilla’s landscape witness, said he didn’t think there would be any greater impact on the landscape from the 7m accoustic screens around the drilling rig than from the 4m accoustic fencing.
Review of landscape evidence
Cuadrilla’s barrister, Nathalie Lieven, reviews evidence of which equipment would be on the sites at the same time.
She asked Andrew Tempany, the company’s landscape witnesses, whether the proposed programme would have a period when the drilling rig (up to 53m), coiled tubing rig (up to 36m) and workover or service rig (up to 36m) would be on site together. Mr Tempany said there wasn’t. He had previously agreed that the three structures could be together in a worst-case scenario.
Ms Lieven asked Mr Tempany what effect would lighting would have on landscape character.
Mr Tempany said: “It has very little impact”.
She said some of areas assessed as most sensitive to lighting would be public footpaths around the site. She asked Mr Tempany: “What impact would lighting have on public rights of way at night?”
“I would suggest it would be very low”, he said.
Ms Lieven reminded the inquiry that Lancashire County Council’s landscape officer had not objected to the applications on landscape grounds. Despite criticism of the methodology, she asked Mr Tempany what difference would best practice have made to some of the photomontages. He said there would have been no difference on the page.
Landscape assessment “did not follow best practice”
Cuadrilla’s landscape witnesses accepts that the company’s assessment of the impact of its fracking plans on the countryside did not follow best practice.
Questioned by the barrister for Roseacre residents, Andrew Tempany, accepted that photomontages uses in the application should not have been based on photographs taken on a cloudy day.
He also agreed with comments by Robin Green, for the residents, that the camera used had not been up to current standards and it was not best practice to take photographs when trees were in full leaf. The photomontage did not show one of the rigs or other equipment likely to be on the site at the same time as the drilling rig and flare stack.
Earlier, Mr Tempany said he would not have used the methodology used in the application for assessing the landscape impacts.
Shale gas extraction would have “minor impact” on landscape – company witness
Cuadrilla’s landcape witness told the inquiry the fracking plan at Roseacre Wood would have a minor impact on the character of the landscape.
To laughter from the audience, Robin Green, barrister for Roseacre residents, said:
“That is astonishing.”
Mr Green said:
“You are changing an agricultural field within a hedge to a site for the exploration of shale gas and you think there would be no significant change on the character.”
Mr Tempany said the Roseacre site occupied about 1.3ha, or about 25% of a field. He said:
“For the field in which the appeal site sits, the character would not be significantly changed. The remainder of the field would still be a rural field.”
Mr Green put it to him:
“If you look at the physical features, the movement of machinery, the lighting, the noise that would be created you change fundamentally the nature of the field. You change the illumination, the activities on it. You cannot say you have not changed the characteristic of the field?”
Mr Tempany replied:
“I think the significant effect is really in relation to the visual impact on landscape character.”
Mr Green put it to him:
“Someone standing in the field next to the appeal site would have no doubt that it was industrial development. They would have no difficult hearing the operation or seeing the lighting.”
Mr Tempany said there would be significant visual changes.
“I would accept that in perception terms people would experience those effects you mention”.
“No assessment of lighting on landscape character”
Robin Green, for Roseacre residents, put it to Andrew Tempany, Cuadrilla’s landscape witness:
“There is no assessment at all [in the application] of the effect of lighting on landscape character.”
Mr Tempany replied:
“Not on landscape character, no.”
Mr Green added that Cuadrilla had not assessed the landscape impact of lighting on the workover rig, coiled tubing rig or other equipment. He said:
“The impact of the proposed development on residential visual amenity only looks at the lighting of the drilling rig.”
Mr Tempany agreed.
Mr Green put it to him that 24-hour lighting of the site, throughout the main phases of the projects, would have a landscape impact. Mr Tempany agreed.
Mr Green said: “There is nothing like that in the area?”
Mr Tempany replied: “There are other sources. The tall masts at Inskip. I appreciate they are different but there are other light sources.”
Mr Green: “They are quite unlike the lighting proposed”.
Mr Tempany: “They are.”
Mr Green said the lit rig would be “an entirely alien feature”.
Mr Tempany said: “It is a different landscape feature but I don’t think it’s an entirely alien feature”
Mr Green: “At night there are no significant sources of light nearby”
Mr Tempany: “Apart from the Inskip masts, no significant sources, no.”
“Worst case scenario: three rigs on site at one time”
Robin Green, representing the Roseacre Awareness Group and the parish council, questions Andrew Tempany, Cuadrilla’s witness on the impact of the fracking plans on landscape.
Mr Green said:
“In order to assess the effect of the proposed development on the landscape, you need to have regard of the worst case scenario and that would be three rigs, a sand sillo and a 10 m flare.”
Mr Tempany agreed.
Mr Green added that there would also be lighting columns. Mr Tempany suggested that there would be lighting only during the drilling phase. But Mr Green said the application proposed site lighting would also be throughout fracking and flow-testing.