Guest post by DeSmog UK: Cuadrilla’s fracking vehicles took wrong turn 115 times in three months, documents reveal


Photo: Neil Terry

Article by Mat Hope, DeSmog UK

When Communities Secretary Sajid Javid overruled local objections to push ahead with the government’s shale gas plans, residents were assured planning conditions placed on fracking company Cuadrilla would be sufficient to minimise disruption to the local community.

But vehicles making deliveries to Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in Lancashire have had to deviate from the agreed route over 100 times during the summer months, data obtained by DeSmog UK through freedom of information requests show.

It is not the first time Cuadrilla has forgone its planning permission to further progress at the site. In July, the company breached planning rules to bring its drill onto the site outside of agreed operating hours.

A traffic management plan agreed by the local council and Cuadrilla outlines a “preferred route” for all traffic, which says it must turn left into and out of the site.

Daily traffic logs kept by Cuadrilla and sent to Lancashire County Council’s planning officers — obtained by DeSmog UK through a freedom of information request — show vehicles entered or exited the site by turning right 115 times between May 22 and August 20.

That means almost five percent of the vehicles serving the site took a route other than the agreed ‘preferred route’ over the period.

The majority of incidents occured in the final two weeks of July, coinciding with the final days of a ‘month of action’ at the site, with vehicles turning right 77 times during that period.

Claire Stephenson, a spokesperson for campaign group Frack Free Lancashire, called the figures “appalling”.

She told DeSmog UK the data was “demonstrable of the non-existent ‘gold-standard, robust’ regulations that are tediously spun by industry and government figures.”

“One incident could be considered a lapse; over a hundred breaches however, is confirmation that Cuadrilla have no regard for the management plan as they know they will suffer zero consequences.

“We have witnessed serious traffic breaches on a daily basis since January at Preston New Road, where ill-trained or unaware HGV drivers enter the site from the wrong direction or with dangerous driving, causing risk to other road users.”

Referring to Cuadrilla’s earlier planning breach, she said, ”what hope do residents have of trusting any regulatory regime that has no power to hold companies to account?”

The traffic management plan requires vehicles to turn left into the site “unless an obstruction is being observed”. The plan says that if there is an obstruction,

“Cuadrilla will consult with the Police and inform Lancashire County Council Highways and Planning departments that a deviation from the preferred agreed route to either right in right out, right in left out or left in right out or a combination of the options as a temporary approach.”

Cuadrilla sought to amend the plan on June 12 to clarify that such obstructions could include, “1) Blocked entrance preventing a left turn into site; 2) Threat of an obstacle confirmed by the Police; 3) Police instruction; 4) Loads or Abnormal Loads which require a right turn under controlled conditions by the Police”.

Local campaigners Preston New Road Action Group raised a number of objections to the changes to the plan at the time, reiterating their concerns that “seeking to allow HGVs to turn right into or out of the site is a hazard”.

The amendments were approved by Lancashire County Council on July 26.

A spokesperson for Cuadrilla told DeSmog UK:

“Right in right out turns are authorised when an obstructions in the road is blocking access from the left hand side or road user safety is at risk. Cuadrilla works closely with Lancashire County Council, Highways Department as well as the Police to ensure that our planning conditions are complied with.

“As you are probably aware Cuadrilla’s deliveries have been subject to illegal activity by protestors climbing onto vehicles and blocking the highway on a frequent basis causing disruption to the local community, business and commuters. Subsequently to avoid further disruption the traffic management plan has been varied to allow right turns into and out of site. This variation has been subject to public consultation.”

The traffic management plan requires Cuadrilla to provide “a record of incidents and issues arising on a daily basis”. But on the documents sent to DeSmog UK, no data is provided for May 1 to May 19. There is also no data related to ‘incidents’ prior to May 20.

Cuadrilla told DeSmog UK that after “reviewing our internal log, the data set is up to date. The log is routinely submitted to Lancashire County Council.”

Lancashire County Council did not clarify whether it had received the missing data in time for publication. Download the traffic log file via Scribd.

This article was first published on DeSmog UK on 24 October 2017.

  • Spinwatch reported on 21 October 2017 that Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site had breached its environmental permit for a third time since work began in January. Environment Agency documents showed that the company had stored drilling waste in standard metal skips which had not been tested for leaks or appropriately certified. Two earlier breaches concerned discharge of excess water containing silt from the site.


Categories: Regulation

26 replies »

  1. A litany of failures that shows complete and utter disregard and contempt for any and all regulations.
    This is just another proof that Cuadrilla can’t be trusted to dig a ditch.

  2. Self regulation is a farce. Yet again we find that the industry cannot be trusted to report any adverse outcomes of their activities.

    • Malcolm
      You comment does bot add up.

      Maybe self regulation is a farce to some. But then perhaps all regulation is a farce, as this particular regulation is nothing to do with fracking. It’s traffic management.

      But in this case, as I read above, the information is from Cuadrilla, handed to the council.
      So far so good, and 95 % compliance.

      Maybe we need some stats on compliance elsewhere to compare.

    • Hi Malcom,

      “Daily traffic logs kept by Cuadrilla and sent to Lancashire County Council’s planning officers”……

      The O&G industry is covered by a very comprehensive set of regulations, so it is wrong to say ‘self regulation’.

      If you really mean ‘self-reporting’, well that’s how ALL industry in the UK works.

      The difference is that the O&G industry is kept under a microscope, so the smallest infringement (real or imagined) is treated as big news, while – for example – the Construction Industry suffered 30 fatalities in the last year and the Agriculture Industry suffered 27.

  3. Surely there is a unemployed or retired pro on here that could start a ‘Guest Post’ listing the illegal activities carried out by the protestors? You’ll need a few months to be able to write all the existing ones down and then start recording the daily ones going fwd.

  4. Well said Phil C & Local Farmer.

    And since peaceful protest is now apparently deemed unacceptable by NYP (who removed an elderly sympathiser not even causing an obstruction, just committing the supposed ‘crime’ of serving tea and cake to the protesters on the verge of the road ) – I suppose you could call their activities illegal – if you think that the increasing erosion of democracy in England is OK.

  5. The antis still haven’t recovered from being asleep on the job, have they?

    When one route is blocked, another is taken. Are there recordings of routes being blocked? Yes.

    This sort of squealing just to make a noise merely shows the lack of substance behind this campaign. All good for Cuadrilla.

  6. All is not good for Cuadrilla Martin, news today says otherwise. Councils are sizing up to companies that are not to be trusted

  7. I think what councils are sizing up is how to waste tax payers money Paula. 6:5 against the Planning Officer’s recommendation probably means an appeal. I suspect they know that but that’s the “joy” of local “democracy”.

    As I stated earlier, I have on my local TV this morning a Biogas site in liquidation so no money to re-instate the site. Good old tax payers, again! Wonder what the emissions will be like during that process? So much for the “benefits” of alternative energy sources.

    • So, Martin. The only taxpayer’s money wasted has been by Cuadrilla.

      Numerous planning permissions and ammendements passed and not carried out. To go to appeal Cuadrilla will have to prove that they need to keep the site open, and that’s a new waste of taxpayer’s money planning application. LCC have taken back control of the site as they would have done from any individual or developer who had not met the conditions of a planning application.

      Nothing to see here; move on.

  8. So, Paula, you support the destruction of all those gannets that the RSPB are trying to save in Scotland? Shame on you. Or the bats, or the raptors? (Mind you, the bats are probably long gone after the flaring.)

    And I hope you don’t live down-wind of Sellafield which will be bursting at the seems to back up your support? Hope they have gold standard regulations.

    Not sure you will get many plastic keyboards from your selection. Maybe they are in etc?

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