Lancashire County Council has confirmed that some lorries visiting Cuadrilla’s fracking site near Blackpool have not followed the agreed route, in breach of planning conditions. But the council said it won’t be taking action against them.
Opponents of the operations at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, have complained that some delivery lorries had turned right into the site – against an instruction in the traffic management plan (TMP).
The TMP, a condition of the planning permission granted by the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, requires all heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) to turn left in and left out of the site.
In a statement today, the county council said the breaches had been the result of police advice relating to protests and enforcement action would not be “appropriate or expedient”.
Andrew Mullaney, head of planning and environment, said:
“The County Council is aware that a relatively small number of HGVs have not followed the approved route as contained in the traffic management plan.
“It is understood that the instances of HGVs turning right into the site have been a result of police advice and instruction relating to protestor activity.
“The County Council is in regular contact with the police and Cuadrilla regarding this issue and has impressed upon the police the importance of vehicles following the approved route as contained in the Traffic Management Plan (TMP).
“Whilst I acknowledge that some HGVs have not complied with the routing controls, at present I do not consider that it would be appropriate or expedient for the County Council to take enforcement action against the site operator.
“This is because the number of HGVs visiting the site at present is low, the turning movements are taking place within the traffic light controlled area and in a location where there is police control of the traffic.
“These conditions are very different from the conditions for which the TMP was designed. The TMP was designed to reduce safety risks when there is a large number of HGVs, and there is 50mph traffic in both directions. Neither of these conditions currently exist at the site. The current right turn manoeuvres are therefore not resulting in a danger to highway safety.”
According to the TMP:
“Strict use of the permitted routes will be a condition of the contractual arrangements of all supply orders and subcontracts. Non-compliance with the permitted routes will therefore represent a legal breach of contract.”
Campaigners have been recording what they regard as breaches of the planning conditions.
Today they alleged (see photos below, clockwise from top left): there had been waiting outside the site access; lorries with loose material had not been sheeted; HGVs leaving the site had not used wheel-cleaning facilities; a vehicle had an inadequately inflated tyre. All photos are by Ami Roberts.
Community liaison group
Another condition of the planning permission at Preston New Road was the submission of a scheme for the establishment of a community liaison group.
The scheme was approved on 4 January 2017 but no meetings of the group have yet been organised or held.
The scheme includes the terms of reference for the group:
- The meeting will be chaired by the County Councillor for the Fylde West Division
- Westby with Plumptons Parish Council will write to residents living within a certain distance of the site inviting them to put their names forward. It will then select six names to attend meetings
- People who live along the HGV route to junction 3 of the M55 will be able to put their names forward for membership
- The group will also include one member to represent Kirkham Town Council, Medlar-with-Wesham Town Council and Greenhalgh-with-Thistleton Parish Council, with the representative rotating between the three councils
Mr Mullaney said Lancashire County Council had been helping to set up the group.
“Although it’s not our responsibility, we have been helping to get it up and running, which includes helping the parish council to identify and choose people to be on it. This involves contacting people in the parish and near the site, asking them to reply by 6 February to the parish council if they’re interested. The parish council will then take the decision on who they put forward for the group.”
Preston New Road Action Group has asked that meetings of the group include reports on compliance with planning conditions.