The Environment Agency announced this afternoon that Cuadrilla had surrendered its environmental permit for the proposed shale gas site at Roseacre Wood, near Blackpool.
The decision marks the end of attempts by the company to drill, frack and test four shale gas wells on a site near the villages of Roseacre, Elswick and Wharles.
The mining waste permit was first granted by the Environment Agency in February 2015. But the scheme faced successive planning hurdles from local and central government.
In January 2015, officials at Lancashire County Council recommended refusal of planning permission on noise and traffic grounds. Cuadrilla asked for the decision to be deferred.
Six months later, officials again recommended refusal on traffic grounds and councillors voted unanimously to refuse the application.
Cuadrilla appealed but, after two sessions of a public inquiry in 2016 and 2018, the then local government secretary, James Brokenshire, refused permission in February 2019.
In March 2019, Cuadrilla announced it would not appeal again. It said:
“We believed the site provided an excellent opportunity to explore for natural gas in Lancashire. However, we acknowledge the findings of the lengthy review process and will not be appealing against the decision.”
The Environment Agency (EA) must approve the surrender of an environmental permit. It said today:
“We are satisfied that the necessary measures have been taken to avoid any pollution risk and to return the site to a satisfactory state.”
The surrender took effect on 31 July 2019.
The EA said:
“Due to the refusal of planning permission, no substantial works or regulated activities have been carried out at the site in relation to the permitted activities. The site remains in the same condition as when the permit where first granted.
“As no activities have taken place, there is no potential the site condition to have deteriorated relative to its condition at the time of permit determination and we are therefore satisfied that the permit can be surrendered.”