Council allows night-time deliveries at Cuadrilla’s fracking site – residents say it’s a “dilution of conditions”

PNR 171201 Ros Wills2

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site, 1 December 2017. Photo: Ros Wills

The shale gas company, Cuadrilla, has been given the go-ahead for round-the-clock deliveries at its fracking site near Blackpool.

Lancashire County Council’s development control committee voted narrowly in favour of a change to a planning condition at the Preston New Road site.

This is the second alteration to conditions at the site this week. Two days ago, changes were approved to the environmental permit on fracking fluid volumes and flaring. Another bid to change the rules on surface water was announced this morning.

Cuadrilla said the change to the planning condition on deliveries was needed to avoid disruption by protesters.

Campaigners against the company’s activities said the change wasn’t justified and planning procedures had not been followed correctly.

They said they were disappointed in today’s vote of six in favour, five against and one abstention. They described it as a dilution of the conditions and an erosion of protection for residents.

Councillors who voted against predicted the change would make matters worse. Deliveries 24-hours a day, seven days a week, would lead to 24/7 protests and increase the bill for policing at the site, they said.

Cuadrilla’s case

Cuadrilla sought to change planning condition 19 set by the inspector at the 2016 public inquiry. This limited deliveries and removals from Preston New Road to the period 7.30am-6.30pm. The company applied to allow deliveries outside these hours on nine occasions over the remainder of the development.

The company’s technical director, Mark Lappin, said protesters had targeted deliveries to the site since work began in January 2017. Protests had led to partial or full closures of Preston New Road causing frustration to businesses, residents and the emergency services, he said.

He also referred to information from the ambulance service that emergency calls had been diverted twice because of protests.

The council’s planning officer, Jonathan Haine, who recommended approval of the change, said the number of deliveries by heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) should be limited to 30 in any one night.

He said the change would result in one night of deliveries every three months.

In a report to councillors he said:

“Whilst it is considered that the proposals would not necessarily remove the incidence of road closures, it would help reduce their frequency which would be of benefit to the applicant and also to the general public including those whose businesses are affected by road closures.

“The number of occurrences of night time HGV movements would be very low and given the location of the site and nature of the roads affected, it is considered that any adverse impact on local amenity would be infrequent and not unacceptable.”

The council’s planning manager, Andrew Mulaney, said although there had been less protest activity recently police intelligence was forecasting further disruption into 2018.

  • There were 31 letters in favour of the application, a 200-signature petition organised by Backing Fracking and support from the Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.

The case against

According to the report to councillors there were 75 letters of objections from the public, as well as objections from Westby with Plumpton Parish Council, Medlar-with-Wesham Town Council, two county councillors and Friends of the Earth. Five people spoke against the application at today’s committee meeting.

“Conditions diluted”

One of today’s speakers, Susan Holliday, who lives opposite the site, said:

“These conditions are greatly being diluted.”

Planning guidance allows for conditions to be altered if circumstances change. But Mrs Holliday said there were no new issues to justify this variation. Protests outside the site were entirely foreseeable she said and Cuadrilla had failed to raise concerns about this at the public inquiry.

“We are seeing a pattern emerging of Cuadrilla agreeing to whatever will get them approval then trying to change it later.”

“Enough is enough”

Peter Watson, who also lives opposite, said the change could bring 60 HGVs passing his home at night.

“Enough is enough. The local community have had enough disturbance and trauma. We shouldn’t allow the planning creep to a 24 hour operation.”

Mr Watson said the controls on working hours were a key condition that had been set to protect the local community from disturbance. He asked why this important change could be ruled on locally when the decision on the scheme had been decided by a Secretary of State and the conditions set by a planning inspector.

He likened the change to the amendment on flaring in the environmental permit:

“This application is an incremental change that will lead to the 24-7 industrial operation on our door step. There is an important principle involved here.”

Mr Watson said businesses supporting the amendment and fracking generally were not particularly local.

“Self-regulation of conditions”

The committee heard complaints that the traffic management plan, another condition of the planning permission at Preston New Road, was now in its eleventh version. The route taken by lorries, originally designated in the traffic management plan, was now largely decided by Cuadrilla security staff, opponents said.

Graham Daniels, who lives at Carr Bridge Park, a community of 400 elderly residents next to the site, said the change amounted to another example of self-regulation of planning conditions.

He said under the revision Cuadrilla could bring in deliveries overnight when it believed there was a threat to safety or amenity.

Mr Daniels said:

“If Cuadrilla say there is a problem, there is a problem.

“I don’t think this is acceptable. Self-regulation of conditions should definitely not be allowed.”

Mr Daniels said the problem was of Cuadrilla’s own making.

“If Cuadrilla were not carrying out these unwanted activities against the wishes of the local community, Westby Parish Council, Fylde Borough Council and Lancashire County Council there would be no protests and no disruptive activity.”

“Wrong procedure”

Marcus Gallie, of Friends of the Earth, said Lancashire County Council planners should not have treated the change as a non-material amendment.

It was a material change, he said, which required a wider consultation and possibly a revised environmental impact assessment screening exercise.

“Where you have fracking, you have protesters”

Cllr Kevin Ellard, a member of the committee who opposed the change, said planning conditions were put in place to protect the interests of  residents.

“Our first responsibilities as a council is to our residents so we should take these conditions seriously.”

He said the change would make things worse:

“Wherever you have fracking you have protesters. That’s the way it is because it is controversial technology.

“It is not surprising to anybody that there is a high level of protest at Preston New Road, just as there has been in other parts of the country.

“Wherever there is a 24-hour operation related to fracking there’s going to be a 24/7 operation in relation to protesting.

“Rather than make life easier for residents it will only make it more difficult.”

Disturbed sleep

Paul Hayhurst, the councillor for the Preston New Road area and a member of the committee, said 24-hour protests would increase the local policing bill and add to disturbance for residents from noise and lighting.

He said:

“If you allow this today not only are you going to make life simply worse for those people on the basis that they are going to have to put up with this day in and day out.

“But you’re also going to ensure that they’re not going to sleep at night either. If you have 30 wagons turning up at all hours of the night it will mean that they will not be able to sleep.

“That is on top of all the problems they have on a daily basis whether from protesters or from Cuadrilla. People’s lives there are blighted.”

HGVs don’t arrive by magic

Another member of the committee, Stephen Holgate, said:

“HGVs don’t arrive through some kind of magic portal.

“They travel along roads that are littered with houses with residents who will be disturbed by traffic in the middle of the night.”

“Protections being eroded”

In reaction to the decision, a spokesperson for Preston New Road Action Group said:

“We are truly disappointed that Lancashire County Council has decided to approve the change to the condition that was put in place by the Secretary of State. The now means that convoys of HGVs during the night will be permitted.

“Local residents will potentially be disturbed during the night by lorries coming, going and depositing their loads of industrial equipment.

“We are seeing planning conditions and environmental permits being changed bit by bit and the protection they are meant to provide to local residents being gradually eroded.”

Helen Rimmer, North West Campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said:

“People will be disappointed in the Council’s decision to allow Cuadrilla to use night-time convoys of heavy lorries and the lack of scrutiny of Cuadrilla’s noise data.

“Residents are now likely to suffer further noise impacts during the night, for a fracking development they don’t even want.

“Creeping changes to planning conditions result in a fracking operation very different to the one that has been assessed.

“We urge the government to accept the democratic wishes of local communities and councils and put a stop to fracking in Lancashire.”


This report was made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers.

21 replies »

  1. ‘The council’s planning officer, Jonathan Haine, who recommended approval of the change, said the number of deliveries by heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) should be limited to 30 in any one night’…….thirty!!!!!…..and so it begins. The erosion of rights to a peaceful existence, gone in one fell swoop of a bias planning officer’s recommendation; who lives no where near this route by the way….
    I hope you sleep well Mr Haine and co.

    • Look at all of the yellow journalism and “alternate facts” erupting from the anti-frackers in response to this common sense decision.

      Ruth’s oh-so-accurate headline reads “residents say it’s a “dilution of conditions”” Contrast that with the fact, disclosed later in the article: “One of today’s speakers, Susan Holliday, who lives opposite the site, said:“These conditions are greatly being diluted.””

      Was Susan Holliday speaking for all the residents, or was she speaking for a group of anti-frackers? Who cares about honesty in reporting when the situation is becoming so desperate for anti-frackers? A headline that allows readers to believe that all of the residents were against the change is pretty compelling stuff. We all understand that reality is only a minor inconvenience when you are an anti-fracker or an anti-fracking journalist.

      And how about this little gem, “Councillors who voted against predicted the change would make matters worse. Deliveries 24-hours a day, seven days a week, would lead to 24/7 protests and increase the bill for policing at the site, they said.”

      OMG! 24×7! That sounds terrible! Well, it sounds awful until you read the facts: “The company applied to allow deliveries outside these hours on nine occasions over the remainder of the development.” and “He said the change would result in one night of deliveries every three months.”

      Do the anti-frack councilors, writers, and “protectors” expect to retain any measure of credibility when they endlessly spew misinformation such as this? Is it any wonder that the town council is beginning to see the errors in its ways? Is it any wonder that they are coming to grips with the misinformation proffered from anti-frackers, that they are beginning to regret the fact that they ruled against the planning inspector and against reason? Are they beginning to sense that the public isn’t behind them when they behave like unthinking zealots? Probably not, but if they aren’t thinking this way, election day just might change their minds.

      • The headline read “Residents say…” not “All residents say…” There is no implication that all residents feel the same, and no journalist could reasonably claim to have canvassed the views of all residents.

        This form of words is common practice (at least in the UK) – e.g. – again no reasonable viewer would conclude from this that all residents feel exactly the same way.

        As you point out later, Ruth’s report not only quotes the opponents, but also the statement by the planning officer on lorry movements, allowing you and other readers to make up their own minds on the issue.

        • I dispute that, Paul. It is deceptive and any rational and objective reader would read it to mean that, in general, residents are behind the statement.. Why not say “Susan Holliday says” or “Anti Fracker’s respond that” ? Those headlines wouldn’t be as catchy, but they would be far more accurate and less deceptive.

  2. So the argument Cuadrilla uses is because of protestors, does he think we must all be in bed by 7:30pm? He’s just shifted the problem to when there are less resources available to support their business in carrying out their immoral business. And if anyone mentions gold standards I’ll just point them in the direction of Aberdeen!

  3. I suspect in your world, you would Paula. Know anyone who has had a burst water pipe during the recent cold spell? Pipes crack, Paula, then they need to be repaired. Your solution? We go back to carrying water in a pail from the well? Ahh, but there’s a hole in my bucket, dear Paula.
    Meanwhile, my dairy a mile down the road has HGV deliveries 24/7. Does this not occur in “rural” Lancashire?

    But, of course, there is a simple solution to all this-AN INJUNCTION. I suspect this will not be pursued too speedily, as the antis activities at PNR continue to provide useful data to support injunctions elsewhere. However, it’s a good fallback solution.

    • Were the residents consulted on this? Was anyone consulted when this bunch of cowards ran cap in hand to the council?

      And that is the answer to everything now isn’t it. No sense, no reason, just bend and twist the laws to suit the furtherance of this filthy fracking frightful feeble fumbling fated tin pot Cuadery industry.

      “Please sir, Mr tory council front man, they are being nasty to us, and walking slowly and peacefully in front of our HGV’s! We are frightened by any sign of people actually standing up for their legal right of protest! We don’t want to be reminded we are here against their wishes?

      We tried to get our unpaid servant police to beat them up and intimidate them but it does not work it just makes them stronger?”

      “They don’t like us poisoning their water and their land and blighting the lives of countless thousands if not millions of people now and in the future? They don’t like us poisoning the air and making them bleed from every orifice? They don’t like us still birthing their babies and murdering their animals.
      They don’t like us ruining their respiratory systems, they don’t like us ruining the value of their properties and making their lives a misery with noise earthquakes and stinks.
      They don’t like us running down their children walkers, bicyclists and horses in the light of day so it can be filmed. We want to do it at night.
      They dont like us invading their quiet roads with our big HGV’s on roads that forbid HGV’s in the light of day and they film us doing it!
      So could you change the law for us so we can plague them at night too with our filthy poisonous industry and it will be too dark and they have to sleep so that will stop them filming us killing everything in our path?”

      And the council reply

      “yes of course!, anything else you want? A tax payer funded yacht in the Bahamas? Zero hour contract slaves from the poisoned soon to be destitute residents? Should I bend over and let you shaft me too?”

      The old In Junk Sham roughshod cowardly secret court behind locked doors little cheap cheat cheap seat little tin pot Cuadery is the only answer to protest and protection now isn’t it?

      What an utter pathetic godawful farce this entire filthy fracking industry is!

      No change there then?

  4. Sorry Martin, did you tell me where you live or are you so far removed from the actual or potential sites that you will not be affected?

    • I assume all the 100+ traffic regulations breaches were criminally illegal as the police could have enforced the breaches as criminal due to the ‘no right turn for HGVs’ sign at the side of the road when approaching from Preston . I suggest that now the LCC has formally registered these breaches and effectively condoned the breaches at the recent public hearing they will now be open to civil action from residents on PNR. So the ratepayer may soon well be paying for compensating the residents as well as the £22500 weekly police bill. Maybe cheaper to get gas from Putin, rather than a dribble from PNR – when? -is it 2019 before any (potential!!) production now?

  5. So, Save Lancs, you are a NIMBY rather than an eco warrior?!

    I live in an oil extraction area, close to a refinery. I previously worked within a different oil extraction area. Whilst I have 50 years “experience” of the former, and 10 years of the latter, I-like most others within the locations- had little knowledge of the presence of such without a great deal of research and exploration. Unfortunately, in my situation, there was no financial support offered.

    Don’t expect that will make you feel better, but I did answer your question.

  6. Not a Nimby Martin but someone who has done their homework and realises that ordinary oil extraction cannot and should not be compared to High Pressure Hydraulic Fracturing. No financial support offered, is that why you are so bitter?

  7. Martin, you only told me what you lived close to not where, there is a difference. And to make things easy i will extend the same invite that I extended to 3 other pro fracking posters, meet me in Lancashire and I will show you around the area, or are you going to do the same as them and ignore the invitation?

  8. Save Lancs, I know the area around PNR, and Blackpool, very well. I do not have to live in an area to know it well, so I am not sure what point you are trying to make. And now I am getting on a bit, probably wise for me to avoid an area where the ambulance service is being constrained!

    Equally not sure why you should feel me bitter. I know there is an easy, very lazy, fallback to suggest anyone who wishes to see if fracking could work well in UK has to have a financial motivation, but it is just the same as saying someone is only interested to see space exploration develop if they are a rocket manufacturer! Yes, I would like the two building sites I have driven by less than one mile from my house to pay me for the noise and disruption, but I have no bitterness to the building companies for not doing so. Equally, both have road signs indicating “Mud on Road” and I need to wash my vehicle more frequently. Still not bitter. And the site just completed that had to pile the foundations without that being in the original plans and created extra noise for many weeks. Still not bitter.
    I have two sons who need houses to be built. And guess what-all of these new houses are fitted with gas central heating.

    • Your sons would be better building houses with maximum insulation, triple glazing and heat recovery/ground source heat pumps, together with solar tiles and house battery. That will maximise their investment in the biggest asset most people have to buy, minimise their bills and future proof their investment. Gas, although professed to be a transition fuel, will only ‘transition’ until the clean energy takes over.
      p.s If they feel the need for a focal ‘gas’ fire as you have an aversion to wood, get then to sign up to Good Energy, so it’s sourced from clean sources. 🙂

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