Revised plans for lorry deliveries to a second proposed fracking site in Lancashire would “put even more lives at risk”, a community group said today.
The plans, published by the shale gas company, Cuadrilla, this morning, added two new routes for deliveries to the Roseacre Wood site near Blackpool, taking lorries through an extra five communities. All three routes would need 39 passing places.
The company said the risk to public safety remained low. A spokesperson said:
“The new multiple routes proposed will lessen impact on any one area. New mitigations, such as passing places and having no HGV movements at the weekend, the peak time of heavy road usage by vulnerable users, have been introduced to ensure maximum safety for all.”
But Roseacre Awareness Group, which has opposed the site for nearly four years, described the new routes as unsuitable for heavy vehicles and risky for other road users.
The group’s chair, Jim Nisbet said:
“The routes they are now proposing, in addition to that rejected by the Inspector at the original Inquiry, are just as unsuitable.
“We accept that the roads are used by HGVs and agricultural vehicles presently but they are not 44 ton six axled HGVs as utilised by the fracking industry. There are those who don’t seem to understand the difference and perhaps they need to visit the local area to truly understand the reasons why we believe Cuadrilla’s new proposals are no better than their original”
“This is going to put even more people’s lives at risk. These rural lanes and villages are not suitable for this type of heavy traffic or industry.”
Lancashire County Council refused planning permission for Roseacre Wood in June 2015 because of highway safety concerns.
An inspector at a public inquiry in 2016 recommended refusal of the scheme for the same reason. But the Communities’ Secretary, Sajid Javid, said he was minded to approve the proposal and reopened the inquiry to give Cuadrilla another chance to present evidence on traffic issues.
The new proposals, contained in 20 documents on Cuadrilla’s website, also include traffic controls, changes to the roads and limits to the number and hours of deliveries.
Mr Nisbet said:
“They are also proposing to put in a number of passing places and even a set of traffic lights on one section of road.
“The total number of new passing places proposed is now 39. If they have to create this many it shows the routes are unsuitable.
“It starts to smack of desperation. I cannot see how these proposals provide the necessary mitigation sought by the Secretary of State and I am sure that once the new Inspector, Mel Middleton, undertakes his site visits he will agree.”
People can comment on the new proposals until 10 January 2018. The inquiry is due to open in April 2018.
The traffic routes
Cuadrilla proposes to use the original route to the site, now called the Blue Route, as well as two new routes, called the Green and Red Routes.
Blue Route: The original route from the A584 at Clifton, along Dagger Road and Salwick Road, and either through the defence site DHFCS Inskip site or the village of Wharles
Green Route: New route from the A585 north of the site, through the villages of Thistleton, Elswick and Roseacre
Red Route: New route from the A585 north of the site, through the villages of Thistleton, Elswick, Crossmoor and Inskip and either through DHFCS Inskip or the village of Wharles.
The new routes mean
- 5 additional communities affected by HGV traffic: Thistleton, Elswick, Crossmoor, Inskip and Roseacre
- 27 extra passing places constructed
Cuadrilla has said HGVs would go through DHFCS Inskip to avoid the village of Wharles for all phases of the project except extended flow testing.
Cuadrilla said it would limit HGV movements to a maximum of 50 per day: 25 into the site and 25 out across all three routes. A spokesperson said the daily average across the project would be significantly less than this.
It gave examples of how the HGVs could be distributed across the routes:
Utilising 1 Route: If the Green Route is used by Cuadrilla for 50 two-way HGVs on a particular day then no HGVs could use the Red or Blue routes that day.
Utilising 2 Routes: If the Green Route is used by Cuadrilla for 30 two-way HGV movement on a particular day (i.e. 15 each way) then 20 two-way HGV movements (i.e. 10 each way) could route on the Red Route but no HGVs could use the Blue Route.
Utilising 3 Routes: If the Red Route is used by Cuadrilla for 30 two-way HGV movements on a particular day then the Green and Blue Routes could be used by up to 20 two-way HGV movements (e.g. 10 two-way HGV movements on the Green Route and 10 two-way HGV movements on the Blue Route).
During the extended flow test, HGVs driving through Wharles would be limited to three in and three out, the proposals said.
Cuadrilla said access to the Roseacre wood site would be limited to 7.30am-6.30pm Monday-Friday and there would be no HGV deliveries on Saturday, Sunday or public holidays. But in a separate part of the proposals, the company allows for deliveries at any time in an operational emergency.
Use of the Red Route would be prevented from 8am-9am and 3pm-4pm to avoid Inskip St Peters primary school at drop-off and pick-up times, Cuadrilla said.
Cuadrilla said it would create passing places on all three routes.
- Blue Route: 4 on Dagger Road and 8 on Salwick Road
- Green Route: 16 on Roseacre Road
- Red Route: 5 on BH269 Lodge Lane and B5269 Preston Road and 6 on Higham Side Road/Inskip Road
The company said there would be temporary traffic signals on part of Dagger Road on the Blue Route. They would be triggered when any two HGVs (not just Cuadrilla HGVs) were travelling on Dagger Road at the same time in opposite directions. It would, in effect, temporarily close this section of road to two-way traffic. Cuadrilla said “based on measured HGV traffic flows this is expected to be a low frequency occurrence”.
Moving large equipment
Cuadrilla said it would mobilise and demobilise the drilling rig and hydraulic fracturing equipment no more than twice during the project to reduce the number of times of peak HGV traffic.
Traffic management plan
The proposals have a draft traffic management plan (TMP), which would become a condition of planning permission if it were granted by the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid.
This would bring together the restrictions on deliveries, including routes, hours, numbers, as well as requirements such as wheel washing and monitoring of road conditions and sanctions if the requirements were not followed.
Cuadrilla said the TMP would ensure no two Cuadrilla HGVs servicing the site would ever meet each other on any one of the three HGV routes.
The TMP does allow Cuadrilla, in “exceptional circumstances” to use convoys to make deliveries or removals from Roseacre Wood and for them to travel outside the agreed hours. The TMP defines exceptional circumstances as a high threat to the safety of HGVs or the public or a high threat to public amenity.
Opponents of the Roseacre Wood scheme are unlikely to be reassured by the TMP.
An equivalent plan for Cuadrilla’s site at Preston New Road, where shale gas drilling is underway, is now on at least its eleventh version. There have been big changes to the arrangements first agreed between the company, councillors and residents. Cuadrilla breached that TMP when it brought the drilling rig onsite in the early hours of the morning. Anti-fracking campaigners have said there have been many other breaches.
Under a worst-case scenario, HGV levels would rise by more than 94% on Roseacre Road, 78% on Dagger Road and 80% on Salwick Road, Cuadrilla said. It said this increase was below that needed to have a significant impact.
Cuadrilla said the new routes would not increase the total number of HGVs supplying the site and there would be no significant impact or change to:
- Local air quality
- Listed buildings (the new routes pass an extra three listed buildings)
- Archaeological remains at Inskip airfield, now described as a heritage asset
- Greenhouse gas emissions
- Public safety
- Public rights of way
- Visual amenity
- Delays to drivers and pedestrians
- Fear and intimidation from vehicles
- Cumulative effects
Cuadrilla said there would be a slight adverse impact on accidents, safety and severance (the perceived division when a community is separated by traffic). The environmental transport assessment classed severance as major on Roseacre Road on the Green Route, moderate at two points on the Red Route and moderate on one part of the Blue Route.
Protests and obstructions
The proposals assumed that if Roseacre Wood were approved, there would be an equivalent level of protest as that seen at Preston New Road
The company said:
“Cuadrilla will work closely with the Police and LCC to prevent the obstruction of HGV Routes into and out of the Site by protestors or other events via all practical measures, agreed with all parties where appropriate. If there is any obstruction of routes then the Site Management Team will have in place contingency planning to vary the particular permitted HGV Routes being used.”
The public consultation on Cuadrilla’s plans continues until 10 January 2018.
Cuadrilla’s website has links to the consultation documents (see Inquiry and Consultation).
This document has details of how to respond to the consultation.
The public inquiry is provisionally scheduled to start at 10am on Tuesday, 10 April 2018 at Blackpool Football Club. It is expected to sit for eight days (Tuesday-Friday). Inquiry website
Updated 30/11/2017 to include amended and additional quote from Jim Nisbet