A group of residents opposed to shale gas launched a blimp balloon this morning at the proposed site of Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking wells to mark the height of the 53m drilling rig.
The action coincided with site visits by the inspector at the public inquiry into the shale gas applications for Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.
Preston New Road Action Group (PNRAG) said it wanted to display an accurate height of the rig so that the inspector would be able to see the top during her visits to viewpoints of the site.
Pat Davies, Chair of PNRAG, said:
“It is critical to us that the Inspector and the nearby community appreciate the height and dominance that a drill rig of 53 metres would present.”
“In order to demonstrate the level of intrusion, a blimp seemed to be one method of accurately indicating just how high a structure of 53 metres represents, particularly as it will be on what is currently an agricultural field.”
This afternoon the inquiry inspector is visiting the proposed route for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) delivering to the Roseacre Wood fracking site.
Lancashire County Council refused the Roseacre Wood application on traffic grounds. It was particularly concerned about a section of the route along Dagger Road which is not wide enough in places for a car and an HGV to pass.
Local people have complained that the verges have been deliberately damaged to widen the road. Cuadrilla said five proposed passing places would make the road safer.
The inquiry has heard that the roads around Roseacre Wood are used by horse riders and are not suitable for HGVs.
Cuadrilla proposes to sign an agreement with the MOD allowing HGVs to use a route through the Inskip defence site to avoid Wharles. The inspector was taken through the Inskip site on the way to Roseacre Wood and Roseacre.
The inquiry team also visited Roseacre and Wharles. People in both villages told the inquiry team last week about how the proposed fracking site had divided people. They also complained that the final decision would be made by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
The inquiry has heard evidence about the impact of the fracking sites on the landscape. In Wharles, the inspector visited Rose Cottage, where parish and district councillor, Heather Speak, would have a view point of the Roseacre Wood site.
After the site visit left, Cllr Speak said of fracking:
“If they must do it, they should do it in the North Sea and not next to villages where people live”.
This evening, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, told the BBC’s North West Tonight:
“The important thing to remember is that it is temporary. The planning application period is for six years but the rig is only actually up for 14 months out of that six year period. So undoubtedly you can see it, you can see the structure but it is only there for a relatively short period of time. And after it is taken down the site will be restored to back to what it was before.”
“You can’t really beat getting out there and seeing what the sites are like, what the access is like. hearing the concerns that people have and seeing it for yourself.”
The inquiry hearings resume tomorrow (Thursday 25th February) at 10am. DrillOrDrop will be posting live updates throughout the day.