Politics

Shale gas commissioner to meet Lancashire residents

Natascha Engel DoD

Natascha Engel, the government’s shale gas commissioner, pictured (centre) with panellists at a meeting in Malton, 11 October 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

The government’s new shale gas commissioner, Natascha Engel, is to meet representatives of residents living near Cuadrilla’s existing and proposed fracking sites in Lancashire.

The energy minister, Claire Perry, has said she will be briefed about the meeting.

Ms Engel’s visit, on Thursday (15 November 2018), follows a guest post on DrillOrDrop by the campaigner, Barbara Richardson. She had expressed frustration that invitations to meet local people to discuss their concerns about fracking had been unanswered by Ms Perry and Ms Engel.

After the post was published last week, Ms Engel got in touch about meeting residents. Ms Perry also wrote to Mrs Richardson saying:

“I look forward to hearing the outcome of these discussions”.

Ms Engel will meet representatives of the communities near Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road and its proposed operation at Roseacre Wood.

Mrs Richardson, who chairs the Roseacre Awareness Group, welcomed the visit. She said:

“It is about time the government took our views seriously.

“I am expecting the shale gas commissioner to listen to us and not preach to us.”

Ms Engel has said she is independent of government but, as a supporter of shale gas, she is not impartial.

Mrs Richardson said:

“We are well aware of the shale gas commissioner’s role to try to convince us that shale gas is a good thing.

“We already consider ourselves well informed on this matter, having been researching for over four years.

“This is an opportunity to get across our views to government about why we do not agree with its policy on shale gas.”

She said community representatives would be telling Ms Engel about their particular concerns over recent earth tremors caused by fracking at Preston New Road and Cuadrilla’s call for the seismic monitoring regulations to be relaxed.

The representatives would also explain why they opposed government plans to change the planning rules for shale gas sites, which would in some case bypass the local authority, she said.

Susan Holliday, who chairs the Preston New Road Action Group, said:

“We are under no illusions that Ms Engel’s agenda will be different to ours but we trust that she will be prepared to listen to well-informed residents.

“Visiting the area will allow her to see just how close people live to the site at Preston New Road.

“We have already written to her regarding the seismic events and the traffic light system. This will be a good opportunity to discuss our concerns with her.”

Some anti-fracking campaigners in Lancashire have opposed Ms Engel’s visit, which they have described as propaganda. DrillOrDrop understands that a local artist is working on a satirical “seaside-style” postcard about the visit (link).

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