Live news as it happens at the 14th 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 (RAG) and Treales, Roseacre & Wharles Parish Council, continues his case. His first witnesses is Gerald Kells, an independent policy and campaigns advisor, with a background in transport, planning and environmental policy.
Mr Kells is followed by: Elizabeth Warner (residents’ perspective), Barbara Richardson (community amenity and recreation) and Gordon Halliday (planning).
The inquiry resumes on Tuesday 8th March at 10am.
Questions by the inspector
Ms McKay asked if Mrs Broughton was seeking to apply the condition to the 81 array sites around Roseacre Wood. Mrs Broughton agreed.
Cross-examination: bird conditions
Ms Lieven said Natural England had not objected to the Roseacre monitoring or exploration applications.
Ms Lieven said Lancashire County Council had withdrawn its objection to the change to the condition on overwintering birds to apply to only eight of the 81 sites. Mrs Broughton said she disagreed with the council.
Ms Lieven said once the monitoring arrays had been installed there would be little above-ground evidence. Mrs Broughton, for Roseacre Awareness Group, said Cuadrilla sites had sought long time extensions for other sites. One was 10 years before it was completed. Over what timescale would the monitoring arrays be completed, she asked? She said there was a lack of certainty.
Ms Lieven said conditions would require Cuadrilla to complete the arrays on time. Mrs Broughton said she was concerned that 91 sites would be difficult to control.
Mrs Broughton, for Roseacre Awareness Group, is opposing Cuadrilla’s appeal to remove conditions to avoid disturbing wintering birds at most of the monitoring sites.
She said Cuadrilla had provided very limited data on bird disturbance. She said the survey approach was flawed. Cuadrilla had not proved that birds would not be affected by relaxing the condition.
Application should be refused
Mrs Broughton argued there was no justification of the monitoring scheme if the exploration application was refused.
RAG believe that the cumulative impact of 91 Monitoring sites for Roseacre, combined with PNR Monitoring sites, and the other sides would result in:
“unacceptable industrialisation and intrusion which will be both significant and widespread in what is currently a very rural area.”
“This area is important for overwintering birds, but the surveys conducted to date have been inadequate. The Appellant’s contention that the behaviour of overwintering birds can be accurately predicted and confined to a limited number of parcels of land within the array area is in conflict with the observed patterns of behaviour.”
“In these circumstances RAG believe that the application should have been refused. If, however, the view is taken that the development is acceptable, Condition 5 [on overwintering birds] should be retained in full.”
Cuadrilla survey inadequate
Mrs Broughton said surveys of overwintering birds, undertaken on behalf of the Appellant, were “limited in scope, inadequate and undertaken at a sub-optimal time of the year”.
She said: “ARUP concluded that there is no robust data available for the Roseacre area and they have not taken any steps to address this omission.”
Cuadrilla says only eight of the 91 monitoring work sites merit the protection for over-wintering birds.
The list does not agree with the findings of the limited bird surveys that were undertaken, Mrs Broughton said.
“The Environmental Statement and Monitoring Works Application both identified 13 array sites to be of moderate or high potential for wintering birds. Only two sites are common to both lists.
Importance of Fylde for wintering bird areas
Anne Broughton told the inquiry:
The Fylde and area around Roseacre have contributed to Lancashire becoming one of the most important wintering areas in the world for Pink Footed Geese, with declining numbers elsewhere.
The importance of the Fylde for over wintering birds has long been recognised by LCC, which has applied seasonal restrictions on other schemes to protect the Fylde as a winter habitat.
Cuadrilla have also acknowledged the importance of this locale to wintering birds, in that they are only seeking to vary the condition rather than remove it altogether.
Anne Broughton, opposing the Roseacre monitoring scheme, told the inquiry Cuadrilla had a history of planning applications in the Fylde area alone, with ten (current or relatively recently lapsed) separate site applications.
“The applications follow a clear pattern, are all within a 5 mile radius of Roseacre, on undeveloped agricultural land. The pattern is to apply for permission for temporary works, the conversion of agricultural land to an industrial site, each being up to 6.5 hectares in area. The sites would be in full visibility of the others and across the Fylde with a 35m or 53m high drilling rig, fully lit 24×7.”
She said: “Most of the sites have been subject to further applications for significant time extensions and the appellant has failed to meet the time limits on those developments where work commenced.
The area is suffering from creeping industrialisation and the recent applications constitute a major increase in number, scope, size and intensity of development, which is contrary to policies in the FBC Local Plan, NPPF, and Lancashire Waste and Minerals Local Plan.
Mrs Broughton said the 91 separate sites of the monitoring scheme, comprised an area of 20mx20m, take between 2 and 5 days to complete, consist of concrete pad or collar, inspection cover mounted flush with the ground, surrounded by wooden fenced enclosure approx 2mx2mx1.2m high.
“Buried monitors and boreholes (83 sites) will generate 3 cubic metres of bentonite slurry waste and 0.03 cubic metres of cement waste to be removed off site.
“There will be significant traffic movements associated with each of these sites for construction, mobilisation, de-mobilisation and daily site visits for changing batteries etc.
“The number and location of monitoring sites accessed across farm fields and the activities associated with them (including activities intended to prevent mud being brought onto the highway) mean that the perception of industrialisation will be significant and widespread.”
Final Roseacre witness: Anne Broughton
Anne Broughton, an IT professional, gave evidence on behalf of Roseacre Awareness Group, against the proposed monitoring scheme near Roseacre Wood.
Mrs Brought questioned when the application was necessary. She also said the scheme would industrialise the countryside. She said:
“RAG’s view is that these characteristics (very rural, peaceful, tranquil area) have been underrepresented by the Appellant and that protecting wintering birds cannot be achieved if the general significance of the area is not appreciated.”
The inspector, Wendy McKay, asked Mr Halliday whether he thought shale gas was inappropriate at Roseacre Wood or across Lancashire more widely.
Mr Halliday said it was too easy to argue national need to justify an application. He said the PEDL exploration area was extensive and exploration did not have to be carried out at Roseacre Wood, particularly because companies could use horizontal drilling.
“It cannot be the case that in every case that national need should prevail”
“If the harm is shown to outweigh that national need it [the application] should not be approved”
Ms McKay asked about Mr Halliday’s suggestion that exploration might last longer than six years.
Mr Halliday said he was not suggested Cuadrilla was a bad operator. But he said it is quite usual for the original programme not being met. He said the company had had to extend operations in Lancashire before. The fact that the operation might last longer added some weight, he said.
Re-examination on Amber Rudd’s statement
Robin Green said the statement supported safe, sustainable and timely development of shale gas.
He asked Gordon Halliday whether applications that were not safe, sustainable and timely should they be refused. Mr Halliday said they should.
The inquiry resumes at 2pm
Cross-examination on planning precedence
Mr Halliday argued that approving the site at Roseacre Wood would set a precedent for a production site.
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, put it to Mr Halliday “If you won’t get the energy economic benefits of production until you have gone through exploration.” Mr Halliday agreed.
Ms Lieven said the local economic benefits from production would be greater than exploration.Mr Halliday said “I don’t know. I have no idea about what the local economic benefits would be if Roseacre site was approved.”
He said: “There will be national economic benefits from gas for electricity generation and there are national estimates of job. But my understanding is the economic benefits would be very limited.”
“If we are thinking about the economic benefits from production, we need to think about the costs. I don’t know what they would be. We don’t know what the local benefits and disbenefits would be.”
Cross-examination on national need
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, said weight should be given to the government guidance that minerals had to be explored for where they are found.
Mr Halliday said there was no government pronouncement that shale gas had to take place on this particular site. The shale resource is so abundant, that must be a consideration, he said. This mineral exists over widespread areas. It reduces the weight should be given to national need when there is demonstrable harm, he added.
Ms Lieven said this argument could be applied to every shale gas application. Mr Halliday said shale gas was not like potash, which is only found in a few places.
Cross-examination on impacts
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, put it to Mr Halliday that weight should be given to the number of properties or people who were affected by noise and landscape impacts.
Mr Halliday replied: “It is a consideration but it is more complicated that you would appear to want me to agree with”.
Ms Lieven asked: Can you give me one example of an application in the a national need has been turned down because of the impact of noise on one property?
Mr Halliday said there was a gas appeal from Derbyshire last year where impact affected one property. If the harm is so severe it can override the benefit.
Ms Lieven said the appeal was not for shale gas so it was not supported by the Ministerial Statement or national planning policy.
Mr Halliday said the government policy were not isolated from other impacts.
Cross-examination on strategic plans for shale gas
Ms Lieven, for Cuadrilla, asked planning consultant Gordon Haliday what was Lancashire doing out about strategic planning for shale gas. Ms Lieven was referring to Elizabeth Warner’s comment that shale gas should be planned for strategically.
Mr Halliday said Lancashire County Council had prioritised a site selection and development management document. He described this as logical approach. : He said
“What we are faced with in this country – with the large number of licences issued to the industry – is the prospect of interest from the industry and potential applications coming forward.”
“It is likely to lead to a situation with lots of similar applications to Roseacre Wood across the country. I’m not sure that is a very strategic approach.”
Ms Lieven said Lancashire had six years to plan for shale gas and there was not a strategy in place.
Mr Halliday said there were generic policies in Lancashire’s plans that could assess the applications against.
Harm from the Roseacre Wood fracking plan
Gordon Halliday said he concluded that the fracking proposals were unacceptable at Roseacre Wood. The mitigation, planning conditions and Section 106 agreement proposed by Cuadrilla, did not make it acceptable in planning terms.
He said the proposal conflicted with policies in Lancashire’s Development Plan and national planning guidance.
He said the national need to explore shale gas resources and any economic benefits did not outweigh the conflicts with planning policy or what he called “the serious environmental and other impacts that would arise”.
“I do not identify any other material considerations that would override these conflicts with the development plan and the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework] and the unacceptable consequences for the Roseacre area and its communities.
Mr Halliday said there was nothing he had heard during the inquiry that changed his opinion.
Evidence from Gordon Halliday on planning
Gordon Halliday, a planning consultant with Stephenson Halliday, gives evidence to the inquiry.
Questions from the inspector
The inspector asked whether Roseacre was particularly attractive for recreation.
Mrs Richardson said the landscape was flat which appealed to cyclists and horse riders. The open views to the Lake District and the local scenery appealed to people. Local businesses supported the activities.
Mrs McKay asked about evidence of impacts on local businesses.
Mrs Richardson said there was a small caravan site at Roseacre village, 550m away from the site, It had been established for 15 years. The owners said “We do have a lot of visitors and regular clients. Most are elderly who come for the peace and quiet. They have spent thousands of pounds in the local community. Visitors have already said they will not come back if fracking goes ahead.”
Cross-examination on livery stables
Mrs Richardson said there was a livery stable on Dagger Road on the traffic route) and another stable accessed Dagger Road to exercise its horses. Two other stables exercised horses on Dagger Road. Three stables in Roseacre used Roseacre Road, also on the traffic route.
There are a lot more livery yards in the area to exercise their horses, Mrs Richardson said.
She added that RAG had surveyed of 65 stables, livery yards and individuals. 60% said they would leave the area. 75% would not use the roads if the site went ahead.
Ms Lieven said the survey was not a count of horses on the traffic route. These were all comments, she said.”They don’t give me figures of how many were on the route at any time.”
Mrs Richardson said “We don’t have the resources to do this”
Ms Lieven said the livery yards had alternatives routes, if they wanted to avoid the lorry route.
Mrs Richardson replied:
“Why should they change their route because you want to put bring vehicles down the lanes. These are people who have lived here and rode on these lanes for years.”
Ms Lieven said riders had to be confident they could cope if they approached large vehicles.
Mrs Richardson said: The current vehicles are agricultural vehicles who knew how to deal with horses.
Ms Lieven acknowledged that Cuadrilla’s surveys were carried out in autumn and winter. Mrs Richardson had said the figures would increase in summer. Ms Lieven said horses had to be exercised throughout the year. Mrs Richardson said horses were exercised at the stables in the winter.
Cross-examination on house prices or insurance
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, questioned Mrs Richardson about property prices and insurance. Ms Lieven said these were not planning issues but had raised concerns locally.
Ms Lieven said a study showed that there had been no impact on house prices from fracking at Preese Hall.
Mrs Richardson said the study was not new. People would give evidence to the inquiry next week that they had lost property sales because of the prospect of fracking in Roseacre and the other villages. She said these residents had sent letters to Francis Egan.
Ms Lieven said it was very difficult to know why people pull out. Mrs Richardson said the reasons were explicitly about fracking prospects.
Ms Lieven said the onus would be on individuals to prove damage caused by seismic activity or fracking. But if the evidence was there, Cuadrilla was insured to cover any damage.
Mrs Richardson said several people were still trying to get money from Cuadrilla for damage caused by seismic testing, several years later. Insurance was a serious issue, Mrs Richardson said. Ms Lieven said Cuadrilla had asked for evidence of damage from one homeowner and it had not been forthcoming. Mrs Richardson said at least two claims were outstanding.
Planning reasons for refusal
Mrs Richardson said Cuadrilla’s scheme for Roseacre Wood was contrary to NPPF (paras 20, 123, 143, 144), and local policies DM2, CS5, SP2, SP5 and EP11; all designed to protect and preserve areas such as this.
It is the opinion of RAG and TRW Parish Council, she said, that Lancashire County Council made the right decision in refusing planning permission at Roseacre Wood.
Mrs Richardson said NPPF paragrpah 123 [National Planning Policy Framework] said core planning principles states that planners should be recognizing ‘the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside and supporting thriving local communities within it’ and that ‘authorities must identify and protect areas of natural tranquillity which have remained relatively undisturbed by noise and are prized for their recreational and amenity value for this reason’ .
Cuadrilla failed to take account of amenity value
Mrs Richardson said:
“The area is a valuable recreational amenity and how the introduction of an industrial development (with associated noise, traffic, light, visual impact) could result in a significant loss of community and recreational amenity which would have a devastating impact on local residents, local businesses and the many thousands of visitors to the area.
“It is my view that the applicant has failed to take account of this amenity value and that the impacts on social, recreational and amenity value may be long term and irreversible.”
She said there was “a very strong sense of community involvement, not just in the parish of Treales, Roseacre and Wharles, but across the many unique villages making up rural Fylde”
Mrs Richardson added:
“There are many businesses and sports and social clubs which rely on the tranquil, undisturbed, scenic nature of this rural environment for their livelihood enjoyed by thousands of people, residents and visitors alike, for social and leisure pursuits, making it a valuable community and recreational amenity which needs to be protected and preserved.”
Barbara Richardson, for RAG, gave evidence of community organisations. She said:
“There are well over 50 sports and social clubs, with thousands of members, who regularly use the lanes in and around the proposed site/traffic route.”
“More than 27 different cycling clubs, from all over Lancashire, use the country lanes because they feel safe and it is a pleasant place to ride.”
“There are 60 livery yards and riding stables in the area, accounting for at least 500 horses (does not include private stables), which use these quiet country lanes to exercise their horses.”
“Many community and sports events take place on these lanes such as Christies Manchester to Blackpool ride (over 5500 cyclists), the Inskip Half Marathon (over 500 runners), an annual charity horse ride (over 90 riders) and many others. These are all classed as vulnerable road users.”
“There are many other people who use the area for recreational purposes such as walkers many with dogs, shooters, fishermen, classic car enthusiasts and so on. They do so because it is quiet, scenic and rural in character.”
Threat of fracking to community value and recreation
Barbara Richardson, for Roseacre Awareness Group, quoted from Cuadrilla’s Environment Statement:
‘The community infrastructure in the vicinity of the site is scarce due to the immediate area being so dominated by agricultural land. No schools, community centres, places of worship or medical centres where identified within 1 km of the site. This decreases the sensitivity in terms of any potential impact on community infrastructure’
Mrs Richardson challenged this. She said:
“It is artificial to consider the impact on amenity by reference to an area within a 1km radius from the site of the Development. By their very nature, rural communities are spread over several kilometers and the impacts on community infrastructure should be considered further afield.”
“There are many hundreds of small businesses in the area which rely on the rural character. These businesses, both large and small, offer permanent and sustainable jobs unlike those of the shale gas industry which are temporary and many do not go to local people due to their nature.”
Barbara Richardson gives evidence
Barbara Richardson is a former chair of Roseacre Awareness Group, who lives in one of the closest properties to the site.
Mrs Richardson said:
“Nearly 5000 people live within a 4km radius of the proposed site and over 27,000 people live within 10km. This does not include the many thousands of visitors who come to enjoy this beautiful, quiet rural idyll with its rich and diverse flora and fauna.”
“Although the site is close to the M55 motorway there is no actual access. It has to be reached via a network of very narrow, winding country lanes with poor visibility, few footpaths and virtually no lighting. The proposed route is actually 33km of mainly ’B’ and ‘unclassified’ roads which are used by many vulnerable road users for commuting and recreation.”
“We are not nimbys”
The inspector, Wendy McKay, asked Mrs Warner whether she thought shale gas would be appropriate anywhere. Mrs Warner replied:
“If it is decided to go ahead with shale gas we think it would be better to plan for it strategically. I am very much focussed on what is appropriate at this particular site.”
“This development seems to be me to be the antithesis of strategic thinking”.
Mrs Warner said the group was focussing on planning matters.
“We are very keen to say that we are not nimbys. We do not have a blind rejection of any development anywhere.
But at that particular location, where socially and economically its values comes from the nature of the area, this specific development is not appropriate.
Mrs Warner continued: “There are other developments. There are other operations with which we have not raised concerns. But this one here, in this place, it is against all the guidance in the planning polices. That is what we are asking you to consider”.
We do not seek to diminish those concerns
Nathalie Lieven said she would not cross-examine Elizabeth Warner. She said: “This is not out of disrespect to RAG or Elizabeth Warner”. Ms Lieven added that Cuadrilla did not seek to diminish the concerns of residents.
Mrs Warner challenged Cuadrilla’s view that the impact of the site on landscape would be extremely localised and temporary. She said it was unlikely that elderly people in Roseacre would see the impact reversed.
Mrs Warner added doubted whether the perception of rural Fylde would survive if the site were approved.
It would not be a tableau or the visualisation, she said.
“It will be a dynamic, noisy industrial presence in what now is a rural and undeveloped area. It will have the traffic impact to match that.”
She said the fencing and lighting would be “essentially alien” in the village. It was threatening to elderly people and children in the area.
Cuadrilla had said the noise barrier would reduce the impact. Mrs Warner said:
“They [the barriers] are higher than these walls. They will look perfectly at home in the middle of field in a dairy farm. That is not a conclusion we can share.”
There isn’t a safe traffic route to Roseacre Wood
Mrs Warner, of Roseacre Awareness Group, challenged Cuadrilla on the number of HGVs over the period of the application. The company had said it was “not significant”.
This was disingenuous, she said. She accused Arup, Cuadrilla’s consultant of
“View[ing] everything from your end of telescope. To make conclusions to fit pre-determined outcomes.”
It was not good enough for Cuadrilla to drive the route in a car, she said. “We twice invited Arup to drive the route with us in an OGV2 (large HGV) but the invitaiton was not taken up.
On the traffic management plan, Mrs Warner said: “No one shares the confidence which has been invested by Arup”.
Cuadrilla’s witness had said a traffic risk assessment was not requested or required. Mrs Warner said this was despite industry guidance and a duty of care by the operator.
Cuadrilla’s traffic witness also said the proposals should not increase risks to safety. Mrs Warner said: the risk assessments were for that – preventing risk becoming a reality. It was on that basis that we commissioned the risk assessment by Tom Hastey. She said:
“There isn’t a safe route to Roseacre Wood, to serve an industrial site with all the attendant traffic.”
Mrs Warner said the residents had presented pedestrian survey evidence to Lancashire. “We could not afford another one”, she said. “If we had put our own counts to the inquiry it would have been viewed with some scepticism”, she suggested.
“The environment around Roseacre magnified, rather than managed, those inherent impacts and hazards.”
“24/7 drilling noise is an inescapable burden”
Mrs Warner also challenged Cuadrilla on noise. The company’s assurances did not convince residents, she said.
The company said noise would be controlled as far as was reasonably practicable. Mrs Warner said the definition of “reasonably practicable” had changed over time. When the company appeared before the council in June 2015, it was committed to 37 decibels at night, she said. Now it was not.
She said: “We would have liked to undertake a longer noise assessment. Sheexplained why it was not done:
It is because we couldn’t afford it. It could only have helped our case. But we are what we are.
Drilling noise 24-hours a day was “an inescapable burden for residents”. People were extremely scepticism about how noise would be monitored, she said.
Mrs Warner, for Residents Awareness Group, challenged Cuadrilla on the impact of lighting from the site
Cuadrilla’s use of light on masts at Inskip to justify the fracking site has been misleading. The Inskip masts do not illuminate the area, she said.
“Residents should be listened to”
Elizabeth Warner, of Residents Awareness Group, said:
The impacts which are acknowledged and assessed individually by the Appellant will be experienced all at the same time by those who live here.
The specific environs of the Roseacre Wood site magnify rather than manage the hazards and impacts. Cumulatively, RAG believes that they are unacceptable.
Receptors are only one consideration in planning, we appreciate that. RAG represents the local residents who are receptors. They are not everything, but they are not nothing.
Roseacre Awareness Group represents a wide-ranging knowledge and appreciation of our area’s amenity value and will evidence that many more than local residents will be impacted by this proposal and are just as opposed to it.
Elizabeth Warner said:
“Beyond the individual impacts which are foreseen there is concern about the collateral damage which stagnation in the property market could cause. The thriving school and church rely upon property transferring to young families.
“Many rural schools have closed and harm been caused to communities when property fails to attract potential buyers.
“The site and its necessary urbanising and industrialising aspects will impact on both the value and the attraction of this“rural and relatively undeveloped” area.
“Not just a personal tragedy”
Mrs Warner added:
“This is not just a personal tragedy for those who find their homes less appealing, their lives less comfortable because of the scale and nature of traffic or their days and nights disturbed by light or noise. It has wider economic and social consequences which planning policies foresee and seek to avoid.
“People who live in this area, and are impacted by these proposals, share the view that an industrial plant in a location which takes value (economically and socially) from empathetic developments and planning consistency is unacceptable”
Fearful of change to the Fylde
Mrs Warner said:
“We are fearful that this development in the heart of rural Fylde will change for ever the way in which the Fylde is regarded and all the reasons why it is valued.”
“Residents cannot see the proposed development sitting within the characteristics of the local community and fear the harm which will follow because even mitigations contained in the proposal (eg passing places, off road waiting areas, removal of hedges, signage, security fencing, hardstanding, lighting) will “prejudice the character and appearance of the countryside”.”
“There is a growing fear, based on experience so far and on simple common sense, that those who visit the area will be put off by the traffic, the noise and the light pollution if the development is permitted. This is not just a personal tragedy for those who find their homes less appealing, their lives less comfortable because of the scale and nature of traffic or their days and nights disturbed by light or noise. It has wider economic and social consequences which planning policies (NPPF, FBLP and JLMWDP) foresee and seek to avoid.
“Thousands of objections”
Mrs Warner said
“RAG has read through very many of the thousands of objections and feels they are a powerful statement from people who live here or know our area.”
“Thousands of individuals have taken the time and the trouble and the care to have their voices heard believing that their voices matter.
“Many of those objections were individual and detailed and referenced policies. Thousands of others used templates to assist them, but that does not nullify the intention nor the concerns..
“Whilst objectors and residents might use emotive language to express their concerns it would be wrong to accuse local people of ignorance or scaremongering. Just as we have, it is clear that very many people have read the proposals of the Appellant with care and have come to a considered opinion.
“They speak about the adverse impacts of these proposals and they,…. we…, believe that this site is not “appropriate for its location” .
“High personal cost”
Mrs Warner said:
“The decision to appear at the Inquiry as a Rule 6 Party is the culmination of a two year journey involving unremitting commitment and has come at a high personal cost to those most heavily involved.
“I would ask the Inspector to give consideration to what it has taken for RAG and the Parish to be here and to assess the full meaning of our presence.
The demands on RAG have been many and significant, she said.
The considerable resources required to meet the expectations of the process have been raised, organised and steered by people whose first interest and expertise is neither campaigning nor planning. This effort represents the accumulated will of communities so moved we are here now.
Mrs Warner said RAG was giving evidence landscape and visual amenity, noise, transport, recreation and amenity, and planning balance.
She said she nor RAG could claim to represent the views of every single person who will be affected by the proposal.
But she said
I live in the community, I am known in the community and I know people from all round the community. I have also been approached by people I do not know because they do want to be heard even if they do not want to have to face this Inquiry in person.
Elizabeth Warner gives evidence
Mrs Warner gives evidence on the impact on residents. Mrs Warner said she had lived on Roseacre Road, Roseacre since 1994. She is a founder member and the current chair of Roseacre Awareness Group.
Questions from the inspector
Passing places Asked about Cuadrilla’s proposal to put passing places on Dagger Road. Mr Kells said you can’t look at passing places as a single passing point. You have to look at the whole system. Mr Kells said he could not comment on whether Cuadrilla could control the lorry movements and how likely HGVs travelling in the opposite direction would meet.
Accident records Wendy McKay asked about how many accidents were on the proposed lorry route. Mr Kells confirmed that three accidents were on that route.
Wharles route He added that the section of the route through Wharles (used when the Inskip defence site route was not used) was not suitable for HGVs.
Monitoring the Traffic Management Plan. Mr Kells said it would be difficult to tell if an HGV driver slowed down for a cyclist. He said I can see inherent problems with monitoring behaviour of lorry drivers in relation to vulnerable users.
Cross-examination: driver height
Ms Lieven put it to Mr Kells it was reasonable to take into account the height of the driver of a heavy goods vehicle in assessing visibility of junctions.
Mr Kells said drivers were higher but they would have to see over hedges which may be of variable. They would also have to be able to see cyclists and cars. I don’t accept the point that they can see clearly at the Dagger Road and Treales Road junction.
Cross-examination: lorry timing
Ms Lieven said the Roseacre Wood site would not be “a drop-in” facility for lorries. The vehicle arrivals and departures would be planned, she said.
Cross-examination: lorry movements in Clifton
Mr Kells said the impact of the extra lorries on the route and the appropriateness of the road. He said Cuadrilla would be adding extra lorries to the village of Clifton, where there was already a traffic problem. The fact that there was already a problem did not relieve Cuadrilla of the need to address the impact its vehicles would have, he said.
He said: Once you get to a 30% increase in HGV you are likely to see a change in whether people cross the road and whether they will be able to do so safely. He said Cuadrilla HGVs may on occasions coincide with lorries going through Clifton to the Westinghouse processing site, increasing their impact.
He said there were no pavements in sections through Clifton and people needed to cross the road to get to homes. He questioned the suitability of the section of the route through Clifton – it was a potentially dangerous section of road, he said.
Ms Lieven asked if there was any evidence of accidents involving HGVs in Clifton. Mr Kells said he had no evidence of this.
Ms Lieven said the duration of the maximum and much lower flows were relevant. Mr Kells said it was not relevant on whether it was a severe impact. There was nothing in planning guidance to suggest that a development should be allowed because of the duration of the impact.
Cross-examination: pedestrian survey
Nathalie Lieven asked Mr Kells whether he had carried out a pedestrian survey. He said neither he, nor Roseacre Awareness Group, had done a survey.
Ms Lieven suggested: “It wouldn’t have been terribly difficult for local residents to clarry out a pedestrian or equestrian survey”.
Mr Kells said “It is not for me to answer that question”. But he added:
“You are the people who want planning permission for a development that will have a potentially serious impact on pedestrians and cyclists. It is is incumbent on you to provide the evidence”.
Cross-examination: accidents around Roseacre Wood
Nathalie Lieven, barrister for Cuadrilla, asked Mr Kells about accident data on roads to the Roseacre site. The data goes back to 2005. She said it was normal to go back 2-3 years. Mr Kells agreed.
Ms Lieven said the data covered the parish of Treales, Roseacre and Wharles. Mr Kells said there had been 27 incidents between 2002 and 2014, of which 3 involved fatalities and 3 were serious. Ms Lieven asked where the accidents were.
Mr Kells said the figures gave a broad view of accidents in the general area, though not necessarily on the route.
Ms Lieven said “We don’t know where the accidents were”.
Mr Kells said 14 accident had been on the route from Roseacre to Preston New Road and three were on the Inskip Road, the section avoided by going through the defence site.
Ms Lieven said “We don’t know how many involved HGVs or the cause of the crash”.
Tracking and visibility at Dagger Road junction
Robin Green, for Roseacre Awareness Group, asked Mr Kells about the Dagger Road/Treales Road junction. This was described yesterday as a difficult junction for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) to manoeuvre around.
Mr Kells said Cuadrilla’s traffic witness had said HGVs were not having any difficulty going from Treales Road into Dagger Road.
Mr Kells said “I don’t think we have any evidence about what existing HGVs are doing at that junction”. He said they may not have come from Station Road, the earlier junction, which lorries going to Cuadrilla’s Roseacre Road site would also have to navigate.
He said people park on a section of the road nearby to access the canal. This adds a further complication, he said.
Survey on pedestrians on lorry route
Mr Kells was asked about a survey for Cuadrilla of pedestrians on the proposed lorry route. He said a van with a camera mounted on the front following the route 15 times. The pedestrians filmed by the camera were then counted.
I have some concerns about this approach, Mr Kells said. I have severe questions about whether this is a representative sample or tells us anything significant about pedestrians and cyclists on the route.
To be caught by the survey you would only have a minute, he said. The surveys were taken at the same time of the hour each hour so it would not be considered random.
Mr Kells said he checked the bus timetable for buses to Blackpool and Preston. The survey missed people walking to and from the bus stops, he said. The survey also missed key other times for pedestrians, Mr Kells added.
The survey also under-estimated cyclists. A regular group of cyclists could have followed the van and never be shown up.
Mr Kells added: The survey does not tell us anything useful about pedestrian use and whether there are places where there are regular pedestrian movements likely to be affected by the lorries.
He said the survey was misleading because it suggested there was no one on the route and the totals were questionable. He said I can’t think what they represent, he said.
“It doesn’t answer whether the route is safe and suitable.”
Mr Kells said he was concerned about the stability of vehicles using the verges. He referred to areas where vegetation had spread onto the carriageway.
Traffic impact would be severe
Mr Kells concluded:
In my opinion the appeal proposals do not meet the transport requirements of the NPPF and the LMP.
The traffic impact would be severe in terms of adverse cumulative residual impact on:
- safety at key junctions, on rural roads and at pinch points, both for car travellers and for vulnerable users such as pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians
- significant potential for delay, particularly at the passing points deterioration of the road surface caused by the increase in HGVs.
- loss of amenity in terms of visual impact of the passing points and the increase in HGVs in a recreational area
He said the problems would be exacerbated if the cap on HGVs became unworkable due to operational variables.
The mitigation proposed would not fundamentally change the overall impact. In some cases it would create other problems.
Traffic management plan
Mr Kells said the use of the Inskip defence site provides mitigation when in use, but only addresses one small part of the route.
Passing points are proposed on Daggers Lane to allow HGVs to pass but they would have environmental impacts and could increase delays.
He said: “There would be no overall control of traffic accessing Daggers Lane, whether from either end of the various side entrances. This could lead to traffic jams which could be further exacerbated by convoying.
To avoid congestion southbound traffic could divert onto parallel ‘escape’ routes but these are, themselves, narrow rural roads. It would be difficult to control northbound traffic which would tend to accumulate behind conflicting vehicles.
A large part of the mitigation relies on the management of site vehicles. LCC have expressed concerns about the practicality of these arrangements. An overall concern is the lack of independent oversight.
For the Local Authority to act would require independent enforcement monitoring but local residents do not want to end up monitoring HGV movements to ensure the management plan is adhered to.
The Transport Addendum says movements will be ‘planned to consider’ peak hours and school times by the Site Management Team. This does not amount to a ban on HGV movements during those times and it is unclear how such considerations would be balanced against the site’s operational needs. There will be concerns in relation to the nursery and schools close to the route.
Another over-riding issue is that the traffic management system only relates to development traffic. There would be no control over when existing HGV traffic arrived at sensitive and constricted parts of the route. Nor would those vehicles be monitored through the fleet tracking devices.
Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs)
Mr Kells said:
I estimate the total two-way development traffic flows over the suggested lifetime of the exploratory works as approximately 46,000 vehicles, about 14,000 being HGVs.
The works would require significant numbers of OGV2s [the largest HGV] a distinction particularly important at constrained locations such as the Treales Road Junction or the Lancaster Canal Bridge.
Cuadrilla’s evidence suggests short periods where HGV numbers could reach 50 per day. The EA suggests HGV numbers would exceed 30 per day for 10% of the time and 20 for 20% of the time. LCC have estimated 14 HGVs and 14 cars (2-way) per hour in the peak periods.
Cuadrilla have agreed to limit the number of HGVs to 50 per day but it is unclear how that would be controlled on a daily basis, how it would be independently monitored and what would happen if the level became unworkable.
Mr Kells said: The number of expected traffic movements is based, among other things, on the level of flow-back of water. The Appellant’s current assumption is for 40% flow-back but evidence from Preese Hall suggests up to 70% is possible, albeit the duration is uncertain.
He said: “If delays led to initial flow testing happening concurrently with other operations that could lead to higher peak HGV traffic than currently identified. As well as increased traffic danger, the HGVs would generate traffic conflict when they met on-coming traffic, other HGVs and vulnerable users, as well as potentially hindering emergency vehicles.”
The surface of the roads would suffer additional road damage. The Appellant has agreed to monitor road damage and undertake restoration work but it is unclear whether this would go beyond patching up or allow for damage to the underlying road surface not visible at the time.
The increase in HGVs (particularly OGV2s) would also impact on the environment and amenity of the area. Some of the mitigation (particularly passing points) could increase direct visual impact and delays to people accessing leisure facilities.
Accidents and road problems
Mr Kells said: The access roads to the Roseacre site have suffered a number of fatal and serious accidents,.
He said these included crashes at Broughton Junction and 34 incidents from Broughton to Roseacre since 2005. There were 14 from Roseacre to the Preston Road, and 3, including one fatal crash, on the Inskip Road section.
He said many sections of the access route have limited or no pavement. The roads are used by pedestrians and cyclists accessing local services, including schools and a nursery.
There are awkward and tight turns, difficult junctions, limited visibility at significant points, places where HGVs are forced to cross the centre line and little street lighting outside settlements.
The condition of the carriageway surface is variable. The area includes a number of rural businesses and communities and is attractive for recreational use by local residents and visitors, some unfamiliar with the area, as witnessed by the pubs and tearoom. There are several existing footpaths and access to the Lancaster canal.
Gerald Kells evidence
Mr Kells, a transport consultant, begins his evidence. He tells the inquiry the Roseacre site fails to meet criteria 2 and 3 in National Planning Policy Framework Paragraph 32 as well as criteria 1 and 2 in Para 35.
He said it was inconsistent with the requirement in Policy DM2 of the Joint Lancashire Minerals and Waste Local Plan (LMP) in relation to ‘the control of the numbers, frequency, timing and routing of transport related to the development’
He said these failures were a principal reason for the Local Authority refusing planning permission.
He said a disadvantage of the scheme was its limited opportunity for sustainable transport and that ‘residual cumulative impacts’ are severe. He added:
I consider the proposals would also be inconsistent with the aspirations in the existing and emerging Flyde Local Plan to encourage walking and cycling.
Nathalie Lieven, for Cuadrilla, said she was submitting a note on flowback volumes in the Environmental Statement and waste permit. She was also submitting spreadsheets of traffic numbers.