Regulation

Breaking: Government approves Cuadrilla’s Lancashire fracking plans at Preston New Road but Roseacre Wood on hold

Cuadrilla fracking site

Picture: Cuadrilla Resources

In the past few minutes, the government has given the go ahead for fracking at one site near Blackpool in Lancashire. But it has delayed a decision on plans for another site.

The decision overturns Lancashire County Council’s refusal of Cuadrilla’s application for Preston New Road, Little Plumpton. No decision has been made on Roseacre Wood, which was also refused by the county council.

PDF version of formal decision by Secretary of State

Link to webpage

sajid-javidThe Communities and Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid, said Cuadrilla’s proposals to drill, frack and test for shale gas at Preston New Road were in the national interest.

He said he was minded to approve the plans for Roseacre Wood but he proposed to reopen the inquiry into the appeal. This was to allow Cuadrilla to put forward any other evidence on highway safety and for the opponents to respond to it.

A formal letter from the government said:

“Subject to being satisfied that the highway safety issues identified by the Inspector can be satisfactorily addressed, the Secretary of State is minded to allow Appeal C [Roseacre Wood] and grant planning permission, subject to conditions.”

The inspector at a six-week public inquiry, Wendy McKay, held earlier this year, had recommended the Preston New Road go ahead but recommended refusal of Roseacre Wood.

Pat Davies, Chair of Preston New Road Action Group, said:

“This is a sad day as it is clear to all that this government neither listens nor can it be trusted to do the right thing for local communities.

“It is deplorable that an industry that has been rejected on every level has inflicted itself on Preston New Road.

“Westby Parish Council, Fylde Borough Council and Lancashire County Council planning committee all said no to this application. These reasons were based on facts and knowledge, they rejected the site as unsuitable.

“Dismantling the democratic process to facilitate a dirty fossil fuel industry when only months ago the UK committed to climate change targets in Paris is another example of saying one thing and doing another.

“Profit clearly comes before people. This decision will be scrutinised by many, not just the people of Lancashire and this travesty of justice will not be accepted. This is not the end. We will challenge this.”

Barbara Richardson of Roseacre Awareness Group said:

“If fracking goes ahead in Roseacre, it would devastate our community. We are allowed to make decisions over wind turbines or solar farms, which have far less impact, but not fracking.

“We are not scaremongers, just concerned residents.  These are totally inappropriate greenfield sites, situated in the very heart of rural Fylde, for an industry of this nature.

“So much for our government saying they want local people to have control over their own destiny. Even our own MP urged his own ministers to respect local decision makers.

“We will continue to work with our friends at Preston New Road, and other threatened communities, to stop fracking from happening. It has been a David and Goliath battle. Unfortunately we don’t have the resources of Cuadrilla and the oil and gas industry.

“Fracking is not the solution. It is a backward step in energy policy. Ours is a small and densely populated country, unlike the wide open spaces of the US, which cannot support such an industry without devastating results. Be assured this is about money not people.”

The decision on Preston New Road is a shot in the arm for the shale gas industry, which saw consideration on plans by IGas in Nottinghamshire deferred yesterday after a legal warning. But the boost could be temporary because groups opposed to the plans are expected to bring a legal challenge to the decision.

Earlier this week, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, said he was confident that the company’s plans would be approved. In the summer, the company advertised jobs in Lancashire.

Cuadrilla applied more than two years ago for up to four shale gas wells at each site. If the Preston New Road scheme goes ahead it would see the first horizontal wells to be drilled, fracked and tested in the UK. It would also be the first fracking approval on a greenfield site since 2011.

Refusals

Mr Javid’s announcement follows the decision by Lancashire County Council in June 2015 to refuse both Cuadrilla’s applications.

Councillors on the development control committee voted by nine to three with two abstentions to turn down the plans for Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

They argued, against the advice of planning officers, that noise from the scheme and its appearance would have an adverse impact on local people. There had been more than 18,000 objections (excluding duplicates) and five petitions against the plans with a total of 32,559 signatures.

Also in June, councillors unanimously refused the application for Roseacre Wood, in line with the planners’ recommendation. More than 15,600 people objected to the application and signatories to petitions against the plans totalled more than 91,000.

Just under a month later, Cuadrilla appealed against the decisions and arrangements were made for a public inquiry in Blackpool.

In November 2015, the government announced that the appeals would be recovered, which meant it would be decided by the Communities Secretary, not a planning inspector. The then Secretary of State, Greg Clark, said the proposals were of “major importance” and “more than local significance”. They should, he said, be decided by the Secretary of State.

Opponents to the plans accused the government of lack of democracy and hypocrisy for promoting the idea of localism but taking decisions away from local politicians. Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, urged Mr Clark to “demonstrate that he has listened to people’s views whether they are for or against.”

The government also announced it would recover appeals against refusal of permission for a monitoring around Preston New Road and conditions on a similar scheme at Roseacre Wood. These appeals have also been approved, following recommendation  by the iquiry inspector.

Applications

Cuadrilla first submitted its applications back in May 2014 for Roseacre Wood and the following month for Preston New Road. The plans, for up to four shale gas wells at each site, first came before Lancashire County Council’s planning committee in January 2015. Planning officers recommended refusal at Preston New Road on noise grounds and Roseacre Wood on noise and traffic grounds.

Cuadrilla asked for a deferral and proposed acoustic around both sites to reduce noise impacts. It later withdrew these proposals.

The Preston New Road site would be 7.3ha including the access road and Roseacre Wood would be 1.34ha plus access. Up to four wells on each site would be drilled to a maximum depth of 3,200m and then horizontally for up to 2,000m from the well pads.

Costs

Cuadrilla applied for costs against Lancashire County Council for the Preston New Road appeals. Mr Javid followed the recommendation of the planning inspector and refused the costs for the drilling/fracking/testing appeal but allowed costs for the monitoring appeal.

In a letter published on the Planning Inspectorate’s web pages for the appeal, the Secretary of State concluded on the drilling/fracking/testing appeal:

“a full award of costs against Lancashire County Council, on grounds of ‘unreasonable behaviour’, is not justified in the particular circumstances. The application is therefore refused.”

But on the monitoring appeal, the letter said:

“He has decided that a full award of costs, as specified by the Inspector … is warranted on grounds of unreasonable behaviour on the part of Lancashire County Council.”

Links

Key points on the announcement

Community group vows to challenge Preston New Road announcement. Plus more reaction

Industry reaction

Timeline of Cuadrilla’s Lancashire fracking plans at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood

Costs letter


This report is part of DrillOrDrop’s Rig Watch project. Rig Watch receives funding from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. More details here

Categories: Regulation

95 replies »

  1. Phil C – those who are trying to protect their livelihoods want a growth economy and onshore gas extraction will help. They also want cleaner air and onshore gas can help with that too! It has worked well in America and it will work in the UK – or maybe it won’t but at least the UK will have tried to see if it works. In either case, it’s a worthwhile endeavor for the country. Democracy wins!

    http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/project_syndicate/2012/09/thanks_to_fracking_u_s_carbon_emissions_are_at_the_lowest_levels_in_20_years_.html

    • Worked well in America?? Take your head out of that plastic bag and see what devastation has happened due to your precious industry! No price is worth the destruction of health, air, water and livelihood that the people suffer there. That is what you want for Britain?

    • That is an awful rag, there is no evidence what so ever that fracking has reduced CO2 in USA or anywhere else, i dont even trust the figures. The fracking industry is suddenly desperately quick to jump on these doubtful claims and say how they are responsible for saving humanity, yet at the same time ignoring the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people who have had their lives ruined by fracking? I say again, go and talk to those who have legitimate claims about health and livelihoods destroyed by fracking, dont crow to me, i aint listening, go and tell it to the fountainhead of those who know what this evil practice does to their environment.

      • No Phil, You don’t trust anyone or any source that has anything positive to say about the technology. You are a classic nimby zealot – forget facts, you’ve got a feeling about this!

        You deny the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency, the Energy Information Administration, and the Secretary of Energy. They are all in on this conspiracy to wipe out the human population via. fracking!

        Gosh darn you are onto something!

        • Oooohh peeny, i’m impressed! is that emotion? or just a short circuit? “They are all in on this conspiracy to wipe out the human population via. fracking!” Your words peeny! not mine! Careful peeny, your dark master is listening! its gonna be another hot probe up the old frack passage tonight!
          Actually as your level of intelligence, descend into childish abuse and name calling when you get all uppity, as far as your strange and abhorant practice of insult and derision are concerned, i am a N.I.A.B.Y. Not In Anyone’s Back Yard. And you my dear sparky malfunctioning little AI, are an O.I.S.E.B.Y. ‘Only in Someone Else’s Backyard’ and a particularly unpleasant residue you leave too.Im am not onto something peeny, you are on something.

          • Way to deflect, Phil. Don’t even bother to argue with the whole “fracking is bad for the environment even though copious evidence says otherwise” thing. ;o) Classic! Yes, I think we should pick up all 2 million wells in the US and move them to the UK. You got me, i just want it all to happen in your backyard, Phil! ;o)

            • Just playing your game peeny. NASA or never a straight answer, fun isn’t it? 😊 I dont have a back yard, would a window box do? 😉😁 Perhaps the cat litter box?

  2. All this decision has done is verify what everyone knew before the announcement , this government is corrupt and democracy is dead. However, saying that Cudrilla can go ahead and frack WILL NOT get them past what will stand in their way, there are lots of ways to skint these fossil fools and we will use them all. For those of you invested in this dirty polluting industry, take back your investments or you will lose the lot . This has become a war now , Expect us, expect resistance for we are many .

  3. A lot of hot air back and forth here. Decision made, pretty much as predicted by those for and against. Those against keep telling this board that shale gas will be way too expensive and will not compete with imported or new north sea gas. So what are you all worried about? Let cuadrilla drill and frack a few wells. It will not be commercial and it will all stop. Sites will be restored and you can plant a load of wind turbines instead.

    • Well it’s just such a shame they have to cause so much stress and disturbance before we can get there isn’t it Paul?

    • We are talking about people here Paul, not commodity. You can’t put them in a cupboard and bring them out when it’s over. If indeed as all pointers point to it being too expensive, why is the government putting these residents through so much pain?

      Interesting on Radio 4 during an interview about the ratification of the Paris agreement at 8.30am, which has apparently been ‘pushed through’ faster than expected, the interviewer asked Christiana Figueres the executive secretary of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change and a key architect of the Paris climate agreement was the government right to support shale gas extraction in the UK; to which she replied NO.

    • Actually Paul i am not in the least bit concerned about the price of gas, or whether the industry can make a profit or not, everything can be hidden in creative accountancy before the loan sharks start kicking their door down.
      What concerns me, and in fact everyone who will have this filthy industry imposed upon them, is the destruction of their health, their peaceful environment, their water, their air, their food and their livelihoods. And they are only at the tip of the iceberg, this will soon mean the same for all of us, you included. it has nothing to do with cost or profit, it never has, it has always been about the freedom to live in an unpolluted, non industrial landscape. That is the issue and just allowing one successful well will prove the downfall of us all. That is the bottom line. Go figure.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s