Breaking: Permission refused for Cuadrilla’s Roseacre Wood fracking site

Horse rider on Roseacre Road

Part of the lorry route to Cuadrilla’s proposed Roseacre Wood site. Photo: DrillorDrop

The government has refused planning permission for Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Roseacre Wood, near Blackpool.

James BrokenshireIn a 179-page decision document, published this lunchtime, the local government secretary, James Brokenshire (left), turned down the proposal on highway safety grounds.

The document said:

“The proposed development would have a serious and very significant adverse impact on the safety of people using the public highway.”

“It is not possible to conclude that the demonstrable harm associated with that issue would be eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level.

The Secretary of State considered that the scheme did not meet national planning policy because “safe and suitable access to the site for all people would not be achieved and there would be an unacceptable impact on highways safety”.

The document also concluded:

“The economic impacts on local business, and the impacts on community recreation and amenity carry moderate weight against the proposal.”

Five year wait

The long-awaited decision followed two public inquiries and refusals at every level of local government in Lancashire.

Cuadrilla’s proposals to drill and frack four wells at Roseacre Wood were first unveiled just over five years ago in February 2014.

They were refused by Lancashire County Council in June 2015 because of highway safety concerns. This was supported by the inspector at the first inquiry, Wendy McKay.

But in October 2016, the then local government secretary, Sajid Javid, said he was minded to grant to planning permission. He reopened the appeal to give Cuadrilla more time to provide evidence on its traffic plans.

Cuadrilla Roseacre Wood proposed traffic routes

Cuadrilla’s three proposed traffic routes to the Roseacre Wood site near Blackpool. Map: Cuadrilla Resources

In November 2017, Cuadrilla introduced a new traffic management plan (TMP) for lorry deliveries to Roseacre Wood. The three routes – red, green and blue – were assessed at the second inquiry in April 2018.

180418 RW inq Melvyn Middleton 1

Melvyn Middleton, inspector at the second public inquiry, April 2018. Photo: Cuadrilla

The new TMP was widely criticised by the second inspector, Melvyn Middleton, and the Secretary of State.

Mr Brokenshire said the revised three-routes scheme was “not as flexible as it might at first glance appear to be” because two routes began or ended with a drive across the DHFCS Inksip defence site.

“Because of the lack of evidence before him on the implications of an unavailable route across DHFCS Inskip, he [Secretary of State] does not have confidence that the TMP would work effectively to control site traffic.”

The document concluded:

“The appeal could not be allowed if only one route were used.”


The document also identified weaknesses in Cuadrilla’s case including:

  • Cuadrilla failed to survey critical parts of the Green and Red routes close to Elswick and Inskip
  • Equestrian and pedestrian surveys along critical parts of the green and red routes were inadequate
  • Significant increase in volume and type of HGVs using affected roads on weekend days and substantial proportion in the number of the largest HGVs
  • Cuadrilla proposed a route app for motorists to warn them of deliveries but the minister said successful implementation could not be relied on and it would not be available to the overwhelming majority of drivers
  • Practicality of delivering driver education cannot be guaranteed
  • A proposed sum of £100,000 for highway improvement work would be inadequate to rectify safety hazards
  • The proposed sum of £20, 000 to fund hedgerow replacement costs would also not be sufficient
  • Visibility at five proposed passing places did not meet highways guidance
  • To meet visibility a number of kilometres of hedgerows would need to be reduced in height and there was no evidence this was achievable
hand and dagger

Junction at Hand & Dagger pub (Blue Route) Source: Google maps

The Blue Route required lorries to navigate a difficult junction at Dagger Road/Treales Road/Station Road.

The secretary of state said “evidence still does not satisfactorily rebut the risks associated with the use of this junction by large articulated HGVs as identified by RAG and others and endorsed by the original Inspector”.

Salwick Road Inskip Road junction

Salwick Road/Inskip Road junction Source Google maps

The minister was also “not reassured that the use of the Inskip Road/Salwick Road junction by large articulated HGVs has been properly considered and assessed”.

He noted that no mitigation has been proposed for these junctions.

Dagger Road 2

Dagger Road on the route to Cuadrilla’s Roseacre Wood site

The route used a narrow section of Dagger Road which was “not capable of safely accommodating the additional traffic generated by the appeal proposal”, the decision concluded.

The minister agreed that a comprehensive traffic lighted system, accompanied by some road improvements, could have removed the risks on this stretch of road. But this was not put before the inquiry and Cuadrilla had not shown that its proposals were workable in practice.

Cuadrilla had proposed the use of passing places on Dagger Road. But the decision said:

“despite the appellant having adequate time to assess the visibility aspects of this route from a safety perspective and to design robust mitigation to overcome potential hazards, the proposed mitigation in the form of passing places had not been shown to be workable in practice.

“He [the secretary of state] further agrees that it is not appropriate for outstanding issues such as inter-visibility to be relegated to a later detailed design process”.


Bend at Inskip where convex mirror is proposed. Source: Google maps

On the Green Route, the secretary of state said he was not satisfied that the proposed mitigation was sufficient to enable the route to be safely used even in an inbound direction, and does not find that the use of this preferred route would present a safe and sustainable approach.

He said the proposed development would have a very significant adverse impact on the safety of people using this part of the public highway. It would not, he said, present a safe and sustainable approach.

On the Red Route, the minister accepted concerns about visibility problems on Lodge Lane; the potential for roll-over and rear end shunts at the Lodge Lane/Preston Road junction; increased safety risks from additional large HGVs at Inksip corner; and the absence of survey evidence of pedestrians use of Higham Side Road.

He concluded that this route should not be used by site heavy goods vehicles and that the proposed mitigation was not sufficient:

“[The secretary of state] is unable to find the use of the Red Route as a preferred route would represent a safe and sustainable approach, and concludes that the proposed development could have a serious and very significant adverse impact on the safety of people using this part of the public highway.”

Timeline for Roseacre Wood

45 replies »

    • Thanks for your report Ruth. An excellent result and will take a while to absorb, maybe the tide is turning at long last.

      [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

    • This was the government’s joker card; wait for results and then decide.

      Clearly the prognosis from Cuadrilla is not good enough, so played as the Ace of Hearts not the Ace of [digging with a] Spade.

      Congratulations all; the end of fracking in Lancashire!

  1. Having a planning application turned down on the grounds of traffic seems entirely reasonable. At least it wasn’t turned down for totally pathetic reasons such as earthquake risk, pollution of drinking water etc etc.

    • “Having a planning application turned down on the grounds of traffic seems entirely reasonable”

      Huzzah we agree at last. Pity so much time and money got wasted – I hope Cuadrilla will be paying for this.

      As this is now a precedent it is hard to see how any development in a rural area is not going to be refused on these “entirely reasonable ” grounds.

    • Judith, any one of these reasons will stand alone or in company with others to prevent fracking occurring.

      Especially if you live in one of the threatened areas.

    • I agree with you Judith. Earthquakes, pollution and risks to drinking water are nothing to worry about are they? We can always drink bottled and get extra insurance for our homes. Easy Peasy!

      • Yvonne – maybe you could point to cases of damage or injury caused by hydraulic fracture stimulation and a mechanism by which your water supplies could get contaminated. Think you been listen a bit to much to your local ‘experts’

        • The sole job of an INSURANCE COMPANY is to calculate risk .

          AND the biggest insurance companies feel the risks posed by Fracking are HIGH.

          Will homeowners living close to Fracking sites be able to obtain insurance , if so what will be the cost ?????

          Householders affected by floods face insurance double-whammy if they live nearby planned fracking sites

          • Well, Jack, maybe the Community Fund could get a good group quotation for insurance, and fund any premium from the £1m-£1.5m they may receive, as starters, for PNR. (You will have done the maths by now, (LOL) so no need to supply a link.)

            What system do they apply at Sellafield?

            • HAHA MARTIN ,

              The community fund won’t scratch the surface when you take note of house price devaluation

              ALSO lets not forget Ladies and Gentlemen , a house which is difficult to insure , will be unmortgageable.

            • MARTIN,

              SELLAFIELD is totally different.

              With FRACKING you are drilling directly under people’s homes …..

              You are also breaking up and disturbing the foundations and then pumping millions of gallons of toxic chemicals underneath their homes at pressures of up to 20,000 PSI

              Just to show you the difference in PSI pressure ………….. your car tyre pressure will be at about 32 PSI

            • I wondered when Foggy would crawl out from under his rock.

              Great news regarding Roseacre Wood eh Marty!

              Looks again like you read the signs wrong again with the Mr Middleton and the SoS panning the quality of the traffic proposals made by the operator. Caudrilla practically doing the anti frackers job for them yet again.

              But I am sure you will join me applauding the hard work and never ending dedication of RAG and their expert/legal team for pulling Cuadrillas traffic plans to pieces.

            • No, it is not different at all Jack. There are plenty of areas within the UK where houses can be insured when over, or next to all sorts of things, and mortgages can be obtained. Now, historic brick work clay pits, do present a small issue.

              So, where are these broken foundations and toxic chemicals causing problems? Not in UK, and last time I checked in the USA I was reading reports of fracking below schools and the parents were chuffed because of the extra resources available for the kids education.

              Strange how new houses are being built close to PNR. Must be very optimistic builders there! (Did you miss the previous chat about that, Jack?)

            • Not at all Pavlova. The decision is correct in relation to the site and also in relation to PNR having a long way to go to complete current testing.

              If you check back, I said when KM was stalled it looked as if the focus was to concentrate upon PNR before much else was allowed. INEOS may be the exception.

              There may be some groaning from Cuadrilla if they think process has been compromised, but-if and when-they complete testing at PNR they will be in a stronger position to find another site.

              Perhaps Mr. Nolan will be looking to move his farm as these locals are so considerate compared to his! (CLUE)

              Sorry to hear about Blackpool FC. Hope something better emerges for the locals. A club with a proud history that deserves better.

            • By the way, Pavlova, Martin was under his rock visiting the NHS to see whether his wife needed another organ transplant, or whether rejection had been successfully treated.

              Sorry you missed me, but some things do take priority over your concerns.

            • Martin you know what, we agree for once something in life are more important.

              I wish your better half a speedy recovery and that everything is OK.

            • MARTIN , PLEASE

              Unless you are official spokesman for the Insurance companies of the UK ……

              YOU need to read the LINK and understand what leading UK insurance companies are saying .

              They DO NOT want to know , if you live in a Fracking area ……..

            • Jack-I do not need to read some obscure link. I can talk with my son who was an estate agent for around 20 years.

              Absolutely no problem with insurance or mortgages in many similar situations, and certainly not when a grouping of clients could be managed.

              You will always get some lenders or insurers who take a particular stance, but others will not.

              We do find we have a of choice in UK, Jack. You would enjoy it. But you would need to watch out, we even cut through steel with large PSIs-shocking. LOL

            • Ladies and Gentlemen may I have your ATTENTION PLEASE.

              MARTIN …………… has just nominated himself as official spokesman for the UK Insurance Industry HAHA.

              MARTIN says , quote, ” There are plenty of areas within the UK where houses can be insured when over, or next to all sorts of things, and mortgages can be obtained. Now ” ……………. MARTIN please explain and show us your evidence .

              This is what the UK insurance industry is saying , MARTIN

              Householders affected by floods face insurance double-whammy if they live nearby planned fracking sites


              MARTIN , MARTIN PLEASE read the above LINK…….That is what the UK insurance industry is saying and its indisputable ( THEIR OWN WORDS .)

              Please don’t make us laugh by trying to dispute what the UK insurance industry is saying .

            • Jack-in the UK we do have individual responsibility and opinion. Maybe a novel concept to some, but quite a good idea.

              Now, my young friend, some may go to get a mortgage or insurance, and find for all sorts of reasons, they have problems.

              Then, they remember there is competition (Giggle it) in the market and they-we call it- shop around.

              We even have comparison sites that assist, or brokers, if you want the personal touch.

              Hey ho. This miracle within a competitive market occurs and a deal is done. You really would like it Jack. It even shows that if a group pool their purchase, they will find it much easier and more “closed” doors will open. Maybe the builders putting up those houses close to PNR might even take on the task for their clients?

    • Yes you point to shortcomings in the report that we all need to be aware of. It re-enforces the Government’s past complacent views on issues such as siesmicity – which you share.

      • Harry – you’re post really doesn’t make too much sense. But complacency on seismicity is something that I seem to share with the people who blast Triassic limestone directly above old coal mines – they’ve not noticed any issue. Not wishing to be rude but the issue you keep bringing up is only an issue on your mind – it’s not an issue shared by most academics or people who deal with these issues as their day job.

        • So called experts who only know one side of an argument know little of that. Although there are some who are even quoted by Government sources who do (at least) hedge their bets. Advanced academics should be at the cutting edge of analysis (which should never be one-sided) in areas were matters are complex. They should also be entirely free from feeling a need to serve the interests of firms and governments. In stressing the problem of surface damages from fracking operations in former coal mining areas, this does not mean that I am not aware of other dangers from fracking such as (a) the impact of chemicals and radioactive activity on groundwater quality, (b) waste problems from carbon dioxide and the disposal of water, (c) the over usuage of water supplies as we move into an era of climatic shortages. (d) methane and nitrogen oxides escaping into the asmosphere, (e) the loss of local habitats, (f) noise vibration and the impact of large truck movements and (f) land loss and mechanical vibribations over lengthy periods. Academics should be aware that cutting edge analysis about developing circumstances should never be one-sided nor dogmatic. And that it is better to be on side of caution over a new developing and complex technology.

  2. This is what winning looks like. Its very slow, but with no political backers in parliament to bend decisions on their favour, the whole thing will slowly fail and fall over. For those commentators on the fracker’s PR team payroll, I would check you are getting paid upfront as the whole thing is set up to just put each business into liquidation when it fails, and pass the harm onto the creditors. The bosses might be making promises to you now to keep on churning out those chat room comments, but will blithely suck out any cash left in the business and shut the thing down pretty quick once it’s clear the political support is gone, and leave their suppliers stitched up.

  3. Excellent result, its a pity Javid had to bottle the original PI recommendation, it would have saved time, money and anxiety for those impacted.

  4. This is the correct decision. It is evidence-based & thorough. Nothing to do with subsurface issues.

  5. What a way for the government to kill off the industry without having to be seen to ban it , it’s becoming too much of a political hot potato when your own party is split over the subject.

  6. Correct result – it was always about get one site out of two. Not sure why Javid persisted with this one but the end result is correct. As originally recommended by the Planning Officer. Shame we will not know about the Geology and if the Emeritus is correct or not?

    • Paul – I totally agree – however we might get to sample the geology via horizontal wells drilled from another site. If the geology doesn’t agree with the Professor it will because those corrupt oil companies and academics have moved the rocks

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