Live news as it happens at the 13th day of the inquiry at Blackpool Football Club into Cuadrilla’s fracking plans for the Fylde area of Lancashire. Check our Inquiry page for more information, posts and links.
Robin Green, barrister for Roseacre Awareness Group and Treales, Roseacre & Wharles Parish Council, presents his case.
He calls Kenneth Halliday (landscape and visual impact), Ed Clarke (noise) and Tom Hastey (transport and safety).
The inquiry resumes at 9.30am.
Questions from the inspector
Cuadrilla’s risk assessment The inspector, Wendy McCay, asked about Mr Hastey’s criticism of Cuadrilla’s safety audit. Was this more comprehensive in its scope than you stated, she asked.
Mr Hastey said a two-hour site visit was not sufficient for the route. He said the desk study could not be comprehensive. He said the risk assessment should have been done on the route. He said it was unsuitable.
Traffic Management Plan Ms McKay asked if there were any particular point to raise. Mr Hastey said he had “very strong views” on the comment that HGVs would slow down for horses. In order to operate at 44 tonnes, the engine needed to be 260 brake horsepower. It is a big engine with a turbo charger with an exhaust the size of a drainpipe.
“If you can imagine a young girl on a horse on a Dagger Road, passing a juggernaut, and suddenly she gets a blast of exhaust. That horse is going to veer away sharply from the vehicle.”
The rider would struggle to control the horse, he said.
“The only place that rider can drop is under the wheels.”
The driver will go down to 6 miles an hour. the exhaust emissions will be powerful and hot. That hitting the horses legs will cause a disaster, he said. That could happen every time a HGV passed a horse from the stable on Dagger Road.
“It is an accident waiting to happen. It is a very serious concern and one that I have been asked to raise.”
Dagger Road/Treales Road junction Mr Hastey said visibility at the junction would be reduced by the hedgerows. He said there was a risk of a tanker rolling over if it went onto the verge because there was no foundation.
Visibility Ms McKay asked Mr Hastey why he said no reliance should be given to the extra height of HGVs to see over hedges at the junction. Mr Hastey said it would be deemed to be unsafe for a driver to look over hedges at the junction.
Re-examination: HGV experience
Robin Green raised the issue of driver experience. Does that allow them to control liquid inside their vehicle, he asked. Mr Hastey said no.
Mr Green asked: Do HGV drivers have accidents
Mr Hastey replied: Yes
Mr Green: Do HGV have accidents on adverse camber
Mr Hastey: Yes. I have never seen a road where the camber is so severe as it at the junction of Dagger Road and Treales Road.
Cross-examination: Salwick Road/Inskip Road junction
Ms Lieven said Mr Hastey had said there was a likelihood of a head-on conflict. She said this depended on the visibility splays on the junction.
Mr Hastey questioned the accuracy of Cuadrilla’s drawing of the junction. He said it did not bear any relationship with a photograph he had taken. He said the photograph showed a blind bend. The drawing showed a slight curve, Mr Hastey said. “There is a major difference”.
Ms Lieven said the diagram was taken from the Ordinance Survey. Mr Hastey said he had pointed out the bend during the site visit.
Cross-examination: Treales Road/Dagger Road junction
Ms Lieven said there was no record of accidents at this junction. Mr Hastey said he took into account the position of the vehicle on the road. You didn’t take into account the accident data, Ms Lieven said. Mr Hastey said he did not.
Ms Lieven said the speed of vehicle would affect the likelihood of an accident. The Cuadrilla vehicle would not be speeding, she said. Mr Hastey agreed.
Ms Lieven said the visibility of both vehicles would be critical to the likelihood of an accident. Mr Hastey said it was critical to vehicles coming from Treales Road. But it was different for vehicles travelling in the other direction. Mr Hastey said Treales Road was notoriously quick. He said motorcycles might be travelling at 60 mph. On the basis of that the probability is high.
He said where there would be head-on conflict would make the risk of accident likelihood. Ms Lieven said that was “simply not right”. Mr Hastey said a potential head-on conflict had to be a severe risk.
Mr Hastey said it was a very difficult manoeuvre to navigate the junction.
Ms Lieven said the tankers would be driven by a experienced qualified HVG driver who would understand the challenges. If there are issues about fluid moving in tankers, they would know about it, she added.
That is correct, Mr Hastey said, but they had no control over the load. The junction is an exceptional circumstances given the adverse camber, he added.
Ms Lieven said that is part of the job of driving a tanker.
Cross-examination: risk assessment
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, asked Tom Hastey if the risk assessment had been accredited by the Department of Transport. Mr Hastey it would be accepted by the DoT.
Ms Lieven said speed would be a substantial factor in the severity of an accident. Mr Hastey said it would be a factor.
Ms Lieven said the number of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and the duration of their road use would affect the likelihood of an accident. She said the likelihood of an accident would also be affected by the number of times that two HGVs met and the number of pedestrians on the road. She asked Mr Hastey: “Where in your methodology of your risk assessment are those factors taken into account”.
Mr Hastey said he had taken each risk assessment on its own merit. He had considered one HGV travelling in one direction and either a person, cyclist or motorist travelling in the opposite direction.
Ms Lieven put it to him that he had not considered the number of vehicles and the duration of their use of the road. You are saying it doesn’t make any difference how many vehicles or pedestrians use the road. Mr Hastey agreed. There is nothing in your evidence about how you work out how likely an accident will be, Ms Lieven said. “I have not broken it down”, Mr Hastey replied.
Other road users
Robin Green for Roseacre Awareness Group asked Mr Hastey if there were agricultural machinery companies on the proposed lorry route. Mr Hastey said there were three.
Mr Hastey said he was concerned about the undulations in Dagger Road. He said this would create waves in a vehicle with a void, which could destabilise the vehicle.
Risks on lorry route – Salwick Road/Inskip Road junction
Mr Hastey said drivers turning left at the junction would need to cross onto the opposite lane. This would put the cab or the trailer in conflict with other vehicles on the road.
Asked if the junction could be made safer. Mr Hastey said this was not possible.
Risks on lorry route – Dagger Road junction
Mr Hastey presented documents showing junctions, road conditions and verges along the proposed lorry route.
He said lorries travelling from Roseacre Wood would need to cross the centre line of the Treales Road when turning out of Dagger Road.
Mr Hastey illustrated the size of the vehicles that would be using the junction by pointing out a man in the audience who was 16.5m away from the inquiry inspector.
Describing the junction, Mr Hastey said:
“This is arguably one of the most dangerous sections of the road”.
He said a 16.5m Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) would have a carrying capacity of 30 tonnes. He said he had not been able to establish the specific gravity of flowback fluid but it would be higher than water.
To operate legally on the highway, he said the vehicle would not be full so there would be a void in the trailer. The road has an adverse camber. Road conditions and tyre pressures would vary. The junction from Dagger Road into Treales Road was followed by another turn into Station Road.
“All those ingredients are a recipe for disaster in my view”
He said the vehicle would go through 90 degrees, followed by another 90 degrees turn. There isn’t much room, he said. This could result in the vehicle rolling over.
He also said cars would be in head-on conflict with cars at the junction.
“Serious, very very serious”.
Road safety assessment
Mr Hastey said he had carried out a road safety and hazard assessment along the two proposed lorry routes for Roseacre Wood. He said this concluded:
“At the bottom end of the scale we see low injury risks which are unlikely to occur, in which case no further control measures would be required. At the top of the scale there are potentially serious accidents which have a high probability of occurring.”
He said on the lorry route included 26 areas where the risk was unacceptable and 18 where there was a high probability of major accidents.
“In my capacity as a Transport Operations Manager I would have been unable to sanction these routes for the traffic proposed.”
“In my professional opinion, notwithstanding the mitigation measures proposed by the Appellant the use of the proposed routes by large articulated vehicles travelling to and from the appeal site is likely to result in unacceptable risks of accident at a number of points.”
“In terms of para 32 of the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework], I believe that the residual cumulative impacts of the appeal proposals on the safety of the proposed routes will be severe.”
Cuadrilla’s Traffic Management Plan
Mr Hastey told the inquiry:
“Having read the Appellant’s draft Traffic Management Plan and considered its approach to hazards – eg: ‘On seeing a horse drivers will slowly decelerate and pass giving a wide berth.’ ‘Drivers will not overtake horses where there is not sufficient room…'”
“I take the view that it is a superficial document. Based on what I have seen, I do not consider that the Appellant has fully grasped, let alone planned for, the hazards likely to be created by traffic generated by the development proposals.”
Robin Green, for Roseacre residents, introduced his transport witnesses, Tom Hastey. The inquiry heard that Mr Hastey was a transport engineer and consultant.
Noise survey methods The inspector, Wendy McKay, asked Mr Clarke how the background noise survey should have been carried out. Mr Clarke said there should staffed, rather than automatic, collection. It should cover weekdays and weekends. The minimum should be two weeks because noise levels could change. It could be longer than that if weather conditions changed.
2 decibel change Ms McKay asked what difference 2 decibels would make. Mr Clarke said a 2 decibel change is the threshold is where you notice other changes, including characteristics.
Survey data Ms McKay asked about Mr Clarke’s comment that Cuadrilla had over-estimated background noise levels. Mr Clarke this was based on professional experience and data from similar areas
Tonal noise Ms McKay asked whether tonal noise could be dealt with by planning condition. Mr Clarke said the condition proposed to deal with tonal noise would not cover pulsing or throbbing effects from generators, which would draw attention to noise.
Enforcing conditions Mr Clarke said he was concerned about how noise would be monitored.
Re-examination: noise guidelines
Robin Green asked about World Health Organisation guidelines. Were they based on changed levels of traffic noise or a new noise. Mr Clarke said they were not comparable to the Roseacre Wood situation.
Re-examination: unreasonable burden
Mr Clarke said unreasonable burden had to be related to background conditions.
Re-examination: equipment and noise design
Robin Green, for Roseacre Action Group, asked Ed Clarke if he had seen evidence that Cuadrilla had gone through his recommended acoustic design process
Mr Clarke: No
Mr Green: Have you seen a list of kit with the make and model of equipment that will be used?
Mr Clarke: No. There is a lot of variability between equipment. All I have is a description of what equipment does.
Mr Green: Have you been privy to discussions Cuadrilla says it has had with manufacturers?
Mr Clark: No.
Cross-examination: ad hoc measures
Mr Clarke had described Cuadrilla’s noise-reduction measures as “ad hoc”.
Ms Lieven denied this. She said “You seek the quietest equipment and then you enclose it. That is standard.
Mr Clarke said he would agree if this was a construction site. He said there were proper design measures for reducing the noise from equipment such as generators.
Cross-examination: good acoustic design
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, referred back to Mr Clarke’s comments on reducing noise through a multi-stage noise design process for a site. He said drilling rigs and mud pumps would be the “big ticket” items that he would look at first.
Ms Lieven submitted a note, which she said showed that Cuadrilla had had discussions with rig manufacturers about noise reduction.
Mr Clarke said this note had not changed his view of the process. It doesn’t suggest the company had looked at alternative ways to do things, he said. Mr Clarke said top driving puts the noise source in the area and make it difficult to shroud. He had asked whether there was an alternative to top driving.
Ms Lieven said the location of equipment on a site would be decided at post decision stage. Mr Clarke said it should be identified at the outset. It might mean there would be extra mitigation for free and it would not be “an unreasonable burden”.
Mr Lieven put it to him that no-one had suggested alternatives by moving equipment around the site that would reduce noise. Mr Clarke said he would have gone through that process.
Ms Lieven suggested Cuadrilla had used noise-control accessories. Mr Clarke said the measures she described had not been tested and the levels of performance proven. It was an “assumed level of performance”, he said, and not “tried and tested” accessories.
Ms Lieven said enclosing equipment was standard. Mr Clarke said this may not help.It could just increase the noise level. He said tried and tested was important.
Ms Lieven said there was a strong onus on Cuadrilla to meet conditions. If there were reasonable add-ons for the equipment they would have been adopted. She said.
“It is not for the planning system to decide what they should be”
Mr Clarke said
“We should be looking at proposals that have been designed according to a sensible process. We have got to the end of a process and we are talking about putting a barrier in front of the equipment.”
Ms Lieven asked: “Cuadrilla has been through every single of the stages that you are proposing. Can you point to anything that we haveb’t done that we could do.”
Mr Clarke: I don’t know what Cuadrilla has done. I have no information on those early stages on acoustic design”
Ms Lieven: “Are there any features in the design that could be changed that would make any material difference.”
Mr Clarke: “I have given you one. Does it have to be top drilling?”
Ms Lieven: “And I have given you a note on discussions Cuadrilla had with rig manufacturers.”
Mr Clarke: “That is mitigation of the rig not a different drilling process.”
Cross-examination: enforcing noise conditions
Mr Clarke had said Cuadrilla was likely to breach any noise limit.
Ms Lieven said noise conditions would be closely monitored. There would be continuous monitoring, she said. “Not crossing our fingers and hope to get away with it”. The County Council could issue a breach of condition notice or issue an injunction to stop the work. She said:
“If my clients are foolish enough to breach the noise limits they are going to bring on themselves a whole pack of trouble.”
Mr Clarke said compliance could be very marginal. He set frozen or wet ground would make a difference to noise levels. The predictions had a margin of error of 3 degrees. So he said variation was likely and the would be some non-compliance at times.
Ms Lieven said there would be few competing noise sources at Roseacre Wood. Mr Clarke said this was not the main issue. Ms Lieven said there was huge pressure on Cuadrilla to comply with the condition:
“They are going to extreme lengths to ensure that [breaching the limit] would not happen.”
“The problem for Cuadrilla if they don’t make that effort it will be very costly”
Cross-examination: predicted noise
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, referred Mr Clarke to noise data collected at the Horse Hill oil site near Gatwick. This data was used as the basis of noise predictions at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood, she said.
Mr Clarke said there was uncertainty about noise levels. Ms Lieven said there was a great deal of information of noise sources, nature of equipment, including noise from real situations.
Mr Clarke agreed there was a lot of noise measurement data. But there was no information about how directly equivalent it was to Roseacre Wood, he said.
Ms Lieven said there would always be uncertainty because the ground conditions would be different. There was no evidence to suggest that the geology at Horse Hill was different to the Fylde, she said. Mr Clarke replied the characteristics of what you are drilling through make a significant difference to the noise made by the equipment.
Ms Lieven said Preese Hall was the most comparable site to Roseacre. Mr Clarke said Cuadrilla had not provided the relevant background information.
Inquiry adjourns for lunch
Cross-examination: effects of night time noise limits
Mr Clarke said the World Health Organisation said people complained about night time noise when it reached 35 decibels.
Ms Lieven said the WHO had looked at permanent noise sources. Mr Clarke said they were sources that you would become used to. Ms Lieven said people were less likely to get used to aircraft noise than road or rail. Mr Clarke said people did get used to aircraft noise.
He said: “If people knew noise was from a road they accepted it because they had to. A drilling noise was an industrial noise that had been introduced into an area where it was out of context.”
Ms Lieven said evidence from around airports was that people did complain about aircraft noise. Mr Clarke said the issue was about expectation. The sort of industrial noise from the Roseacre Wood site would be less accepted than aircraft knowledge, he said.
Ms Lieven put it to him that construction noise would be more likely to wake people up and keep them awake, than drilling noise. Mr Clarke replied: Construction noise changed from day to day and a lot of nights it would be below 42 decibels. Continuous noise was more likely to be annoying.
Ms Lieven said people were more likely to get used to regular noise. Mr Clarke it was not fair to say that people would get used to regular noise as long as it was no higher than 42 decibels.
Ms Lieven said people would be more likely to become habituated to a continuous drilling noise than irregular construction noise. Mr Clarke said “People do not become habituated to steady industrial noise out of keeping from the soundscape. They become annoyed by it.”
He said hard-working diesel noise would be picked up by people living locally. It was more about continuous incessant character of the noise, he said.
Cross-examination: planning guidance
Mr Clarke said the wording of the planning practice guidance minerals (PPGM) requires operators to minimise adverse effects from noise without imposing an unreasonable burden. Mr Clarke said PPGM did not, however, make it clear how to pursue night time noise levels below 42 decibels.
Ms Lieven said it was better to look at absolute levels, rather than comparisons with background.
Mr Clarke said the maximum night time level for site noise at Roseacre Wood could not be 42 and it should be some way below that. He said pursuing levels at 25-30, for example, comparison against background becomes less helpful.
Ms Lieven said PPGM did not refer to comparing background levels with site levels. She said this could be unrealistic if background levels were very low. Mr Clarke said he didn’t think it was helpful to look at very low background levels.
Ms Lieven said no one had brought data to the inquiry that would establish typical night time levels. Mr Clarke said the data available showed night time levels at Roseacre Wood would range from 25-30 decibels. To be fair to communities, he said the figure for background noise would not be the lowest or an average level. You would need to make a judgement on what was typical, he said.
Ms Lieven said Cuadrilla and the council had chosen what they thought would be lowest. Mr Clarke said the surveys were not a careful exercise in finding lowest levels.
Ms Lieven asked why Mr Clarke had not done a survey to establish typical values. Mr Clarke said it would be difficult to require a limit on noise from Roseacre Wood at night below 35 decibels without imposing an unreasonable burden.
Cross-examination: noise survey method
Mr Clarke criticised the length of Cuadrilla’s night time noise survey. He said:
“It was not the worst way of surveying background night time noise levels but it was certainly not the best”.
Mr Clarke said surveys by the council and the company were adequate if their aim was to establish night time noise levels were below 45 decibels. He said there was enough data available to show that night time noise levels would be quieter than 42 decibels at night and other data might suggest it would be quieter still.
Cross-examination: prevailing noise
Nathalie Lieven put it to Ed Clarke that when the wind came from the south the night time noise would be dominated by the M55 motorway. Mr Clarke said there was not heavy traffic at night on the M55. Ms Lieven said the prevailing wind was from the south west.
Mr Clarke said the lack of background noise data from Cuadrilla was a concern. You would always carry out background noise surveys, he said.
Acclimatisation to noise
Mr Green asked Mr Clarke about the evidence given earlier to the inquiry that people would get used to changing noise. Mr Clarke said the evidence was based on changes in the level of transport noise, not on introducing new different noise. He said:
“In my experience, this type of noise is not something residents will get used to. People will get more and more sensitive, through no malice of their own.”
Cuadrilla compared the fracking sites with construction noise from the HS2 highspeed rail line. Mr Clarke said the noise from Roseacre Wood drilling would sound to residents like an industrial facility. He said:
“In assessing responses to noise it is important to consider the context in which it is heard. We have to look at this as a very different animal to the construction noise from HS2.”
Robin Green asked Mr Clarke about reducing noise at the site. Cuadrilla has said proposals for a sound screen around the well pad would be an unreasonable burden.
Mr Clarke described Cuadrilla’s noise reduction efforts as “ad hoc” and “not a compelling reasoned argument”. The company should have thought about this much earlier and used good acoustic design from the very beginning, he said. He recommended the following steps should have been taken:
- Selection of quietest equipment
- Site selection
- Physical arrangement of where the plant would be on the compound.
- Tried-and-tested noise control accessories
- Tailored screening and barriers around noise sources
- Very large site barrier
It is far more efficient to stop something being noisy in the first place than resorting to large barriers around the site, Mr Clarke said.
He said Cuadrilla had not used tried-tested measures or looked at alternative equipment to reduce noise.
Planning policy guidance
Mr Clarke said the proposed site had to comply with the planning policy guidance on minerals (PPGM). But PPGM gives no guidance on how to compare noise levels with background noise levels, he said.
He said comparison of site noise with background noise would show the proposed fracking site would have an significant impact.
Night time noise limits
Cuadrilla has proposed a maximum night time noise limit of 42 decibels.
Mr Clarke said it was wrong to suggest that the planning practice guidance on minerals (PPGM) supported 42 decibels as the only level an operator needed to comply with.
Robin Green, barrister for Roseacre residents, asked Mr Clarke what would be the noise level which was the lowest observable adverse effect. Mr Clarke said it was somewhere between 30-35 decibels. The significant adverse effect level would be 42 at Roseacre Wood, he added.
But Mr Clarke said the background noise levels at Roseacre were below 30, probably considerably lower. Five decibels above background has the potential for adverse effect and 10 decibels above would have significant adverse effects.
Comparison of Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road
Mr Clarke said:
“It seems there was an anomaly in refusing on noise grounds the Preston new Road scheme but not Roseacre Wood.”
He contrasted Cuadrilla’s environment statements on the two sites. The ES for Preston New Road referred to the effect of road traffic noise while the one for Roseacre Wood acknowledged that it had a lower ambient noise at night. He said:
“It is apparent that Roseacre Wood is the more noise-sensitive site of the two sites.”
“The situation that noise is not grounds for refusal at Roseacre Wood is confusing”
Mr Clarke told the inquiry “noise [from the drilling site] will have an impact on nearby residents, even if controlled to the lowest noise levels the Appellant has indicated might be possible”
He said it was likely that Cuadrilla would break any noise conditions, causing harm to the community while noise-reduction was attempted and enforcement action considered.
“The uncertainty I consider to be inherent in the appellant’s assessment process and un-tested mitigation proposals would give rise to a significant risk of non-compliance if the project were to go ahead.”
Ed Clarke introduced
Robin Green introduces the noise witness for Roseacre Awareness Group. Ed Clarke is the technical director at the noise consultancy Clarke Saunders Acoustics
Old Orchard Farm Wendy McKay, the inspector, said she had visited Old Orchard Farm during the site visit. She said they were not direct views of the proposed site. Mr Halliday said the site visit had shown that every window on the ground and upper floor had views of the proposed site. There is very little boundary screening, he said. The only screening was in the opposite direction. The only open views was directly to the site, 300m away from the fence and 375m from the nearest rig.
“The effects are going to be severe”
Ms McKay asked if the effects would be more severe if they were direct, rather than oblique.
Mr Halliday replied: “You should give this the same weight as if the views were direct.”
Tree planting s McKay asked how the development could be mitigated by conditions. Mr Halliday said planting could do little, particularly int he short term. By the end of the six years there could be softening around the security fence.
Rig painting Mr Halliday said the rig should be painted.
“Someone has to set a precedent. It is up to the industry to adapt and get developments that are more acceptable. If that means painting the rig that should happen.”
He said Lancashire County Council’s witness said the rig should be painted blue. But Mr Halliday said most off the effects would be seen against a cloudy sky so a dark structure would draw attention even more.
Boundary hedges Ms McKay asked about the proposed boundary fencing to mitigate the visual impact. Mr Halliday they would 600mm high. That is the best height to help the plants establish. But after six years, they would be only 2m in height, which is just going to extend along the lower section of the fence.
Landscape effects Mr Halliday said it was absurd of Cuadrilla to say there would be no landscape effects. He said you only had to look at the impact of the balloon used to mark the rig height at Preston New Road during the site visit. He said you cannot disregard locally significant impacts.
Protecting local amenity Ms McKay asked about the weight that should be given to local amenity. Mr Halliday said it should be fed into the planning balance. It should be given a very high weight in this case, he said.
“The development will fundamentally change the way of life in that community.”
Robin Green, for Roseacre Awareness Group, said Cuadrilla proposed to light the Roseacre Wood site throughout the six years of the scheme.
Mr Green asked about the effects of lighting during drilling, fracking and flow testing. Mr Halliday said there would be moderate adverse and significant impacts. He said the level of lighting during the extended flow testing phase would the effects would be the same as during the initial flow test.
Ms Lieven said the rig had to be lit. It is highly likely that it will have a significant impact at night because you can’t hide it, she said.
Mr Halliday said the area was characterised by dark skies. It is inevitable there will be lighting effects in rural area so you have to look at the characteristics of the area, he said.
Ms Lieven said Roseacre had darker skies than Preston New Road. But Roseacre Wood is not in any designated dark skies area. She added that there was already sky glow from Preston and Blackpool. Mr Halliday said the overall impression of Roseacre at night was that it was dark, it had no street lighting and was very different from other areas.
Ms Lieven the impact of lighting on residential receptors would be those identified in his evidence. Mr Halliday agreed.
Ms Lieven said Mr Halliday had shown the fence surrounding the well pad as transparent in several diagrams. That’s not an acoustic fence is it? Mr Halliday agreed. The fact that the fence will be solid and painted will make a difference to the visual impact, Ms Lieven asked. Mr Halliday said it could have been shown differently.
Cross-examination: impacts on villages
Mr Halliday agreed that the Roseacre Wood fracking site would not result in an unacceptable effect upon living conditions at individual homes in the villages of Roseacre and Wharles. But he said would be significant visual effects on Roseacre and Wharles.
He said one of the reasons people lived in the area was the enjoyment of open local views.
Ms Lieven said there were no particular views from footpaths that would be affected by the proposed site. Mr Halliday it was an area that was valued by the local community.
Cross-examination: impacts on neighbouring homes
Old Orchard Farm
Ms Lieven said the only property where there would be a significant adverse visual impact was Old Orchard Farm. Ms Lieven said the occupier at Old Orchard Farm did not object. Mr Halliday said “That is not a material consideration. It is either acceptable or it is not”.
Ms Lieven questioned whether this was true because anyone who moved to Old Orchard Farm would know about the impact.
Ms Lieven then moved on to discuss the impact on other properties
Ms Lieven said there would not be significant visual impact on this property. All that you would see was the top of the rig in the winter, she said. The view of the top of the rig in the summer would be mainly, or wholly, masked by the trees. Mr Halliday said he thought there would be a filtering of views through to the rig.
Ms Lieven said any lighting on the rig would be masked to a significant degree by vegetation in the summer. Mr Halliday agreed. In the winter, people don’t spend a lot of time in the winter at night, Ms Lieven suggested. Mr Halliday said they would experience the lighting from inside the house. Ms Lieven said it was not a significant impact. Mr Halliday replied:
“It is something to say it is not significant. It is another to say in the ES [Cuadrilla’s Environmental Statement] that there are no views from Roseacre.”
Ms Lieven said the Secretary of State is to decide how much weight to put on the views. Mr Halliday said just because it was not significant did not mean it was immaterial. He said: “There would be a marginal benefit from reducing the rig height.”
Mr Halliday said he based is assessment of the view from this property of the closest rig from a summer house in the garden.
Ms Lieven said Mr Halliday’s diagram had put the acoustic fence extending into Roseacre Wood towards the grid connection. Mr Halliday said this was a security fence. Ms Lieven said his visualisation looked the same as the acoustic fence. She said the acoustic fence went around the wellpad. Mr Halliday said this was what he had shown – he had not shown the acoustic fence.
Ms Lieven said the fence and the lower parts of the development would be screened by Old Orchard Farm. Mr Halliday agreed. If the rig was 36m it would be visible above Old Orchard Farm, Ms Lieven said. She asked whether there would be a significant impact if the rig height was reduced. Mr Halliday said there would.
Ms Lieven said the campsite was not a permanent “residential receptor”. Mr Halliday said it was not permanent. Ms Lieven said reducing the rig height would not make any difference to the campsite. The impact would still be significant, she said. Mr Halliday said there would be a marked reduction in height.
Mr Halliday said the impact would still be evident. The sand silos and the rig would be prominent. Ms Lieven said Mr Halliday’s visualisation was not from the property. Mr Halliday said he had been denied access to the house or garden so had produced the visualisation from a parking area.
Cross-examination: different rig heights
Nathalie Lieven asked Mr Halliday whether he had compared the impacts of 35m and 53m rigs. Mr Halliday said he had concentrated on the impact of a 53m rig because that was what Cuadrilla wanted to use.
Cross-examination: Inskip site
Ms Lieven put it to Mr Halliday that the Inskip masts were not a localised impact. Mr Halliday said Cuadrilla’s environment statement had overstated their impact. He said the lattice structure meant that they did not dominate the landscape as had been suggested.
Ms Lieven said the lighting on the Inskip masts meant you could see them from a far wider area than the proposed drilling rig. Mr Halliday said it was good to draw attention to the lighting. He said if the fracking site was permitted it would increase the impact of lighting on the area.
Cross-examination: length of the landscape impact
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, begins cross-examination of Kenneth Halliday. Ms Lieven said Mr Halliday had identified impacts up to 700m. He agreed.
On the duration of the project, Ms Lieven put it to him that the drilling rig and coiled tubing rig would go after 2.5 years and the service rig would be used intermittently after that time. For most of the second part of the project, there would be no structures above the acoustic fence, she said.
Ms Lieven asked: “Are you saying there will be significant landscape effects after the first 2.5 years.
Mr Halliday replied: “Clearly the most significant landscape would be in the first phase of the project but there is potential for impacts after that, given presence of lighting and other activity on the site
Ms Lieven: Are you saying there would be significant effects during the day during the extended well test?
Mr Halliday: My concern is from the taller infrastructure but there is still potential for significant effects beyond that initial three year period.
Ms Lieven: What do those significant effects come from?
Mr Halliday: It is the industrial development in a rural area, the fence, the service rig could be up for extended period of time. It is not clear what the proposal is. There is a lot of uncertainty for the cut-off for different parts of the work
Ms Lieven: After 30 months, there will be no structures above the 4m acoustic fence other than the occasional presence of the service rig.
Mr Halliday: The potential for significant effects continue beyond the first 2.5m.
Ms Lieven put it to Mr Halliday that the significant impacts would be short term. Mr Halliday said he regarded it as a short-medium term impact. He agreed that the impacts would be fully reversible.
Mr Halliday said Cuadrilla’s environmental statement had suggested screening tree planting would reach 4m. This was unrealistic, he said, unless the company used mature trees, which would not be appropriate.
Mr Halliday said Cuadrilla had not submitted any information about the impact of reducing the height of the rig. He described this as “quite extraordinary”.
Mr Green asked whether reducing the rig height would help reduce the impact on local residents. Mr Halliday said:
“It would have a beneficial effect.”
Mr Halliday said the great impact of the rig was likely to be at night when it was lit. He said a lower rig height had been offered in the past and should be adhered to.
Comparison of impact
Robin Green asked which site, Preston New Road or Roseacre Wood, was more sensitive. Mr Halliday said Cuadrilla’s landscape witness had regarded Roseacre Wood as being more sensitive.
Mr Halliday said Cuadrilla had overstated the impact of masts at the Inskip defence site on the wider landscape. He said the impact was localised.
“One development should not be used to justify another.”
He said the shale gas site would add to cumulative impacts
What is the tipping point?
Robin Green, barrister for the residents, asked Mr Halliday about how many properties would have to be affected to make the proposed Roseacre Wood site unacceptable. Mr Halliday replied:
“It is not a numbers game. It could be one property. It is about making a judgement about proximity, the nature of views, other impacts such as lighting. It could be one property that fails to meet the test. Mr Halliday added:
“I believe we have met the tipping point. It is too close to a number of properties and the effect would be unacceptable”.
Mr Halliday said Cuadrilla had made very little attempt to take account of the effect of the site on local residents. He said the company had used viewpoints to assess impact but some were several hundred meters away from homes.
“It is paramount to carry out an assessment to consider in good detail the impact that residents would experience”.
“This is something that should have been properly addressed”
Landscape assessment methodology
Mr Halliday, for Roseacre Awareness Group, said there were defects in the methodology Cuadrilla used for its assessment of the landscape impact of the site.
He said this led to the under-assessment of effects. The company had, for example, understated the impact on walkers and cyclists using local roads and footpaths.
Mr Halliday said there would be open views across the development and hedgerows would be reduced. This would change the experience of using the road.
He added that limited weight should be given to the photo-montage visualisations produced by Cuadrilla. It had not followed best-practice guidance, he said and had not taken the opportunity to change them, even though the Lancashire County Council had said it was not satisfied. This underplayed the eventual effects, he said, and this had influenced the council’s judgement and its landscape architect.
Mr Halliday said the council had no material on which to make a judgement on the effect of the drilling rig.
No control on rig numbers on site
Mr Halliday said the proposed programme for Roseacre Wood showed there was a time when there would be more than one rig on the site. Cuadrilla’s indicative timetable proposed fracking, drilling and extended flow testing at the same time for one period.
He said there was no condition to limit Cuadrilla to operate within any programme so there would no controls on the number of rigs at anyone time.
“Inappropriate and should be dismissed”
Mr Halliday said: “The development proposals are inappropriate as a consequence of the location, scale and effects of lighting which together would have a severe impact on the landscape character of the local area, the visual amenity of local residents and users of public rights of way in the area.
“It is my professional opinion that the Roseacre Wood Exploratory Drilling proposal could not be accommodated in this location without unacceptable visual and landscape effects.”
“I believe there are substantive landscape and visual reasons why planning permission should be withheld and respectfully request that the Inspector dismisses this appeal.”
Mr Halliday said the development would have a “significant adverse impact” on the enjoyment of footpaths and lanes for walkers”.
“I consider that there would be significant effects on the visual amenity experienced by users of Roseacre Lane between the villages of Roseacre and Wharles.”
“This route passes the entrance to the site, within 200m of the well pad and is well used by local residents of Roseacre, Wharles and the wider local population.”
Impacts on visual amenity
Mr Halliday said residents would be affected at Old Orchard Farm, Rose Cottage, The Smithy, Stanley Farm, Stanley Mews and Roseacre Campsite. He said:
“I believe in the case of Old Orchard Farm the appeal proposal is likely to represent an unpleasant, oppressive and unavoidable presence in main views from a house or garden and thereby convert this property into an “unattractive place to live”
Mr Halliday said effects would be found in a radius extending up to a 1.5km radius in views from settlement and public rights of way, assuming clear visibility in unconstrained viewpoints where a reasonable proportion of the development would be visible.
Effects on landscape
Mr Halliday said: The introduction of relatively large prominent vertical features and associated industrial infrastructure during the drilling, hydraulic fracturing and initial flow testing operations would represent a substantial albeit temporary change in the landscape character of the Fylde Drift Farmland Landscape Character Area and its immediate context.”
“The open undeveloped character of the site would change from pasture farmland to an area influenced by shale gas exploration, industrial development.”
“Allowing for the temporary 6 year duration of the proposed development which is properly described as short to medium term, the magnitude of change on the landscape resource would be Moderate to Substantial.”
“Significant effects on local landscape character would occur within and up to approximately 650-700 metres of the proposed development. Within this area the local landscape would be strongly influenced by the presence of the Shale Gas Exploration operations.”
Failings of Cuadrilla application
Mr Halliday said the landscape visual assessment carried out by Cuadrilla had not been undertaken in a manner which is sufficiently objective, thorough and balanced.
He said it was not prepared in accordance with current best practice and present a misleading impression of the scale of the proposed development and had seriously under assessed the potential effects on local landscape character;
“The effects on residential visual amenity have not been adequately assessment for a proposal of this nature. The effects on residential visual amenity would be severe and significant for receptors living in the closest properties. The effects on the amenity of walkers using public rights of way would be significant within 1.5km of the site including major effects on two footpaths in close proximity to the site.
“The visual effect on users of Roseacre Road would be significant. This includes the effects on recreational road users noting that this route is well used by recreational cyclists.
Mr Halliday said The relevant Development Plan policies are Policy DM2 in the Joint Lancashire Minerals and Waste Local Plan – Site Allocation and Development Management Policies and Policy EP11 in the Fylde Local Plan
Impact of the proposal
Mr Halliday told the inquiry the landscape and visual effects will arise primarily from:
- The proposed drilling rig (up to 53m in height),
- the well servicing rig (up to 36m in height),
- a coiled tubing support tower (up to 36m in height),
- two enclosed gas flare stacks (up to 10m in height),
- two sand silos (up to 15m in height),
- fracking pump acoustic barriers (up to 10m in height)
An important consideration which must be considered as part of the assessment is the effect of lighting in this rural location with low levels of existing lighting.
Landscape evidence of Kenneth Halliday
Robin Green introduced Kenneth Halliday, Director of Landscape Planning with Stephenson Halliday independent environmental planning and landscape architecture consultants.
Mr Halliday said:
“The site has a strong rural farmland character which is enhanced by the intactness of key features such as hedgerows, shelterbelts and field ponds. The area has a slightly undulating topography, long views across the landscape and a strong sense of openness with local woodland enclosure. Tall vertical features, mainly radio masts with a line of pylons associated with the high voltage powerline which crosses the area to the west of the site.”
Robin Green, for Roseacre Awareness Group, asks for the information from Cuadrilla supporting estimates on traffic numbers to and from the proposed Roseacre site.
Mr Green also asked for clarification about the route lorries would take through the Inskip site. Mr Green said the traffic management plan and other plans were incorrect. The inspector, Wendy McKay, asked for a correct plan.
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, said the data on traffic numbers were commercially confidential and not material to the inspector or the Secretary of State. Cuadrilla had instructed her that it was not willing to release the data.
This report is part of DrillOrDrop’s Rig Watch project. Rig Watch receives funding from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. More details here
We should at no stage ever allow commercial confidentiality to override democratic process demanding due diligence by planners when accepting or rejecting applications.
”Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, said the data on traffic numbers were commercially confidential and not material to the inspector or the Secretary of State. ”
When commerce rules people get killed, injured or maimed for life, and the environment gets irreversibly damaged for centuries to come
This beggars belief. Cuadrilla are contesting a refusal on traffic grounds but refuse to release the data? If this were a Perry Mason trial Perry would ask the judge to dismiss the case, and the juydge would do just that. And award costs….. The residents are forking out thousands to fight this battle. Cuadrilla are a disgrace.
you are correct alan, if it wasn’t so serious, it would be laughable
“If my clients are foolish enough to breach the noise limits they are going to bring on themselves a whole pack of trouble.”
LOL – just like they did when they breached permissions at Balcombe and elsewhere. Don’t be silly Nathalie!
Could it be that the numbers that Nathalie is so unwilling to share are based on the incorrect data in the Environmental Statement which has already embarrassed Cuadrilla severely. If so it’s easy to see why she was trying to squirm her way out of exposing them to criticism isn’t it?