The main witnesses have now completed their evidence, and the remaining session today is for third-party witnesses.
18:17 Inquiry adjourned until 9:30 am tomorrow
Tomorrow will be taken up with closing arguments from Cuadrilla, Lancashire County Council and Roseacre Action Group barristers.
17:30 Inquiry adjourned until 17:40
The final stage of today’s hearing is to discuss the conditions which could be attached if the appeal by Cuadrilla is upheld.
This section of the inquiry takes more evidence from members of the public.
The Inspector reminds witnesses of the Inquiry’s terms of reference, which focus on highway safety on the three proposed routes.
17:13 Mike Hill
Mr Hill, a chartered engineer, refers to evidence from Mark Lappin, Cuadrilla operations manager, who suggested there could be a significant reduction of flowback water from the site and, therefore, a reduction in site traffic.
This, Mr Hill says, is optimistic.
He acknowledges that horizontal fractured wells, as planned for Roseacre Wood, generally have lower flowback rates than vertical wells. But Mr Lappin said this “would be expected”. He isn’t prepared to be definitive, Mr Hills says. A prudent operator would plan on a worst case, he says, where the flowback rates could be as high as in a vertical section.
The flowback rates at Preese Hall were 70%. This figure would “significantly impact on traffic quantity and frequency and so therefore highway safety”, Mr Hill says.
Mr Hill says that Mr Lappin had suggested recycling flowback fluid. But this is a difficult process and was abandoned by other operators.
Shutting in the well may cause more fluid to be absorbed but can increase the risk of seismicity, Mr Hill says. A report by de-Pater and Baisch in 2011 suggested that wells should not be shut in at all.
But Mr Hill says with no shut in at all, flowback becomes unpredictable. The operator is not in control of the flowback rate. Tankers could be needed to remove liquid at weekends and at night, regardless of whether Cuadrilla is allowed traffic movements at these times..
The Refine research group highlighted a 27% increase in road traffic deaths in US areas where fracking begins.
Mr Hill concludes:
“There can be no better definition of ”in the national interest” than ensuring the safety of the people. It is after all the number one priority and responsibility of any government. In this case, acting in the national interest, this inquiry and the Secretary of State are duty bound to protect the people first.”
The Inspector asks about traffic movements. Ms Lieven says that even if Cuadrilla has underestimated flowback, it won’t materially affect the number of vehicle movements.
Mike Hill says Mr Lappin’s evidence is not correct, and even highly misleading. You need to take a precautionary approach,he says. 3213 truck movements would be needed to cope with flowback, most in the first 30 days. Recycling flowback has been tried in the United States, but most operators don’t do it. Third Energy said they would, but then changed their mind.
If the fluid comes up at night, it will need to be tankered off. There will be too much to store on site. Cuadrilla will get the trucks off the site whenever it needs to.
Ms Lieven says the inspector dealt with this at the previous inquiry.
17:02 Gayzer Frackman
Ms Lieven has mentioned experience at Preston New Road. Many conditions have been breached, at anger of locals.
Mr Frackman lists incidents:
- he found transporters in a layby with number plates blanked out. Police arrived to escort them to site, no charges brought.
- Protestor involved in a hit and run incident, no charges brought.
- No skid warning signs on road to site. Wheel washing equipment never used on site.
- 22/3/17 Diggers not washed, mud dropping off treads. Mr Frackman offers samples of mud.
- Two car collisions caused by vehicles coming onto site from wrong direction. No charges.
- Aggregate came off back of lorry onto highway.
- Cuadrilla have shown disregard to locals, protectors.
- Conditions are not enforced or inspected.
Mr Frackman asks if depeleted uranium been used and has it been transported in cars?
Mr Frackman concludes by saying: Cuadrilla are not a company built on trust.
16:32 Paul Hayhurst
Chairman of Elswick Council, and County Councillor for Fylde West division. Know the village well and use all three routes.
Elswick has suffered from HGV problems for 12 months due to Fox Brothers operation. In one accident, a driver who had stopped to avoid an HGV was still hit by the vehicle.
Gorse Farm gives the locals an idea of what the Cuadrilla operation will mean. If the Fox Brothers operation can’t work safely, how will larger vehicles work? Roads are not designed for 44 tonne vehicles.
HGV movements from Fox Brothers have distorted figures on the Cuadrilla survey.
99% of respondents to a local survey at Elswick said they were concerned by road safety implications of Cuadrilla project.
The vehicles from Gorse Farm are generally only 10m in length, but vehicles still cross the white lines on the bends. HGVs and cars struggle to pass each other on bends. Misjudgement from either driver will lead to an accident.
There are no proposals to address accident blackspots at cross roads and village hall at Elswick. At a speed of 30mph, it takes 88 feet for a 44 tonne HGV to stop.
Mr Bird relies on someone sitting at a computer in London to tell him there is good visibility at the cross roads in Elswick. As a resident, Cllr Hayhurst knows otherwise.
Cllr Hayhurst refers to the A585 junction, and Highways Agency note on residential development. The gaps on traffic on the main road have lessened, making it more difficult for vehicles to turn on or off the road. Large vehicles using this junction will increase accidents.
Elswick was joint winner of Britain in Bloom in 2016 and won the Champion of Champions in 2017. Some of the flowerbeds are less than 0.5 m from the edge of the road. Problems with HGVs mean the previous organiser has withdrawn. In June, volunteers will plant out each bed. This enquiry will affect this in the future. If we have to stop our Britain in Bloom competition, this will have a major impact on the community.
Mr Bird and Mr Lappin gave assurances on driver training earlier in the inquiry. This doesn’t match with Cllr Hayhurst’s experience at Preston New Road, where he is on the Community Liaison group. There have been a large number of breaches of the Traffic Management Plan. Cuadrilla have said the drivers are not theirs. They do not recognise many of the breaches, saying that if security team decide the breach, it is not a breach. Many menbers of the CLG feel that Cuadrilla is a law unto itself. There is concern in the police about vehicles speeding on access roads.
The technology exists to drill diagonally. Roseacre Road could therefore be drilled from nearby industrial sites.
Ms Lieven asks about the Gorst Farm site planning applications. Cllr Hayhurst says Fylde council agreed to Volker rail’s use of the site for rail upgrades. The planning appeal for Fox brothers is currently out for consultation. Ms Lieven asks if Fox Brothers activities at Gorst Farm are controlled with regard to number of lorry movements, timing of movements and so on. Cllr Hayhurst says only the number of vehicles is controlled.
16:29 Jim Beaumont
Cuadrilla’s previous consultants, Arup, rejected green route.
Roseacre Road is an access road for all the farms along its length. In the summer, the road is busy with combines and tractors. When harvesting maize, the roads are covered in mud, and there was an accident caused by this last year.
16:20 Karen Taylor
Increase of traffic, particularly HGVs. will impact people,
First point of concern is sharp bend onto High Street at Elswick. Near miss in February here as oncoming HGV in the middle of the road. Witnessed numerous near-misses. Larger vehicles cross centre line.
Junction between High Street and Roseacre Road. Near miss as trying to cross High Street, with HGV coming fast down the High Street. Parked cars obstruct visibility.
Roseacre Road by Village Hall. Children regularly cross here. Children cross without looking, frequently hear vehicle stopping suddenly. Alley is access to garages, so can’t be blocked or fenced.
Thistleton Road Narrow road, fenced. Motorcyclist paralysed for life after colliding with tractor in 2004. Roads can’t accommodate larger vehicles safely.
Local drivers know the road; incoming drivers won’t. Fox Brothers traffic have a noticeable impact on life in the village.
Routes are highly inappropriate. Increased HGV traffic will affect safety.
16:14 Simon Mills
Over 3000 vehicles go past his door over 18 hours according to Cuadrilla figures. Mr Mills lives on High Street, Elswick. He has done his own measurements, and found 50% to 60% less vehicle movements.
Regarding HGVs, most recorded were illegal Fox Brothers vehicles. Mr Mills has been unable to verify the Cuadrilla data.
Mr Mills says Cuadrilla are arguing the traffic increase is described as minor, but at the same time are proposing many mitigations. This suggests the traffic increase is significant.
The school bus arrives at 3:30 pm, discharging lots of children.
Surely a dedicated access route from Roseacre to the main road network would solve many problems.
Ms Lieven says the traffic data has been verified by the Highways Authority.
16:08 David Galvin
Elswick resident of 30 years. The roads go down as narrow as 4.7m width, well below the 6m width set out as an absolute minimum by the Freight Transport Association. Vehicles will have to take full advantage of the road and cut into the verges.
There is no doubt that people will see lorries coming towards them on their side of the road.
Elswick has pride in its award-winning village and doesn’t want damage on its verges.
Cuadrilla say they will turn delivery vehicles around if a problem arises, but on most of the routes there is no scope to turn a vehicle around without leaving the route.
The previous consultants rejected the red and green routes as unsafe.
16:03 Julie Fairbank
Ms Fairbank lives on a dangerous corner on Lodge Lane on the red route.
This is the truth from my experience. These are incidents myself and my neighbour have witnessed.
- Nine cars in the hedge.
- Three head-on collisions
- Cattle trailer jack knifed, with escaped cattle causing £11000 of damage.
Most roads have limited lighting, tight bends. While walking dogs she has been forced off the road on many occasions.
Most rural roads don’t have the foundation to deal with 44 tonne lorry.
Do we want a no-go area for cyclists, dog walkers and pedestrians.
Ms Fairbank invites members of the inquiry to walk her labradors on the route to see what it is like.
15:59 Andrew Viggs
Mr Viggs describes two near misses on the road out of Elswick where there are two sharp bends Each time he had to swerve onto the pavement to avoid HGVs.
Locals are familiar with this road layout, but it can cause problems for visitors.
Area is on the Lancashire cycleway; people come to cycle because it is safe.
There are limited overtaking options, even for a car driver. Very difficult for lorry drivers.
Many people are around on the local roads during the day.
If Cuadrilla send lorries down these roads, there will be more accidents.
15:49 Trevor Loftus
Has an HGV licence. Mr Loftus raises concerns over the Thistleton T-junction. This is a serious concern for many families. Highways England has commented on the cumulative effect of housing developments on traffic at this junction. The Cuadrilla proposal should be considered in combination with other causes of traffic increase.
There is an issue at the junction where those right-turning out of the junction can have difficulties due to steady traffic on the main road. Mitigations such as roundabouts are not feasible as they would add extra delays to the main road.
Traffic on the A585 has a 50 mph limit at the junction, but many cars go faster. There are many near-misses at this junction.
Mr Bird’s accident statistics appear to differ from those of Highway England.
15:42 Annabelle Hassell
The owner of Elswick Equestrian Centre. She says she would rather use bridleways, but there is no clear network. Ponies are ridden on the Cuadrilla route every day of the year.
There have been several incidents due to haulage company at Lodge Lane, including a horse bolting due to a speeding HGV, This was a near-miss. Another near-miss caused a horse to panic, and the horse had to have extra training.
One bad experience can last a lifetime for a horse.
There are large agricultural vehicles they have to deal with but they are driven by friends and neighbours who are careful as they pass. We stay off the road during harvest, as there are more contractor vehicles on the road.
The Inspector asks if horses can use footpaths. Ms Hassle confirms that they cannot.
15:35 Katheryn Risley
Ms Risley questions the figures on traffic movements. In June and July last year, when the surveys were done, there were peaks in movement, due to activity by Volker Rail, working on the Preston to Blackpool line.
Ms Risley has done her own counts recording 31 HGV movements over 12 hours.
Using her figures, Cuadrilla will increase HGV movements by 161%.
Ms Risley submits a photograph taken last Friday, showing an accident in Elswick.
Not all accidents are reported. Ms Risley’s mother had her car written off and was injured after a collision with an agricultural vehicle. This accident was not recorded.
Ms Lieven asks what year her mother’s accident occurred. Ms Risley said her mother was traumatised by the incident and has not driven since.
15:28 Albert Risley
I regularly see HGVs driving at excessive speeds. The pavement comes down to just 48 cm in places, and with a leaning wall many pedestrians are forced to walk in the road.
Mr Risley is a member of the canoe club which has facilities at the Hand and Dagger pub. To save crossing the road, the club have had funding to build steps down to the canal from the pub. Canoes are unloaded at the side of the road by the pub. Boats have to be turned out into the carriageway to be carried down the steps to the canal. There will usually be at least two boats.
Members of the club meet midweek as well as at weekend. Children come every day during school holidays.
Local people know these roads, so please listen to them.
Ms Lieven asks what time of day do people go? Mr Risley says people go on all days of the week. Ms Lieven asks about where the boats are stored. Mr Risley says most boats are stored at home.
15:24 Sarah Clayden
Member of a cycle group, and her group cycles 7 days a week. Some members will stop cycling if the Cuadrilla site goes ahead.
As well as HGVs. there will be many other vehicles generated by the project.
The main concern is meeting lorries as a cyclist. Cuadrilla should be more concerned about passing cyclists rather than passing other lorries.
Many young families live in Elswick. Children and young people are encouraged to cycle. Young people will not be able to cycle, or visit their friends on foot. The Elswick Wheelers Cycle Club may close.
15:19 Martin Clayden
An illegal lorry park has meant that a large number of lorries and low loaders move through Elswick at all hours.
Mr Clayden encountered a large low loader coming towards him on the wrong side of the road at 6:30 in the morning. He had to mount the pavement to get out of the way.
This is not about driver training – the bends are too small for large lorries to get round safely.
Mr Clayden’s wife was approaching the left turn to Thistleton. In the dark, she saw headlights coming towards her. Again, she had to pull onto the kerb. The lorry had failed to negotiate the corner and was driving down well over the white line.
15:08 Ian Phillips
Mr Phillips has lived on the High Street at Elswick for 20 years, and has always felt the roads to be safe. In the last 6 months, there have been 6 incidents, all on routes proposed for Cuadrilla HGVs.
Mr Phillips daughter regularly drives on the blue route. In a recent incident, she met an HGV travelling down the centre of the road. She slowed and drove off the road into a ditch to avoid the vehicle. This raises questions of road width and enforcement.
Later Mr Phillips daughter was forced to make an emergency stop when meeting an HGV on the blue route. She thought she was going to die.
Given the number of sharp bends and narrow roads, how will these issues be resolved.
The number of cars parked on the High Street at Elswick has increased significantly. This is on the red and blue route. In another incident on the High Street, Mr Philips only avoided a collision by swerving off onto a side road.
Mr Philips also encountered an HGV at the Thistleton T junction, on the wrong side of the road as it prepared to turn. A motorcycle coming the opposite way narrowly avoided a collision.
The key is enforcement of regulation. Will road users be safe? If Cuadrilla are allowed to use these routes, I believe lives will be at risk.
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 1
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 2
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 3
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 4
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 5
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 6
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 7
Roseacre Wood Fracking Inquiry Day 8