Councillors in West Lancashire have voted overwhelmingly to oppose plans to drill and frack two shale gas wells in the green belt near Formby.
The borough council’s planning committee took just 12 minutes to object to the scheme at a meeting this evening.
Members voted by 10 to nil, with two abstentions, to back the recommendation of planning officers to oppose the application.
If approved, the scheme by Aurora Energy Resources for the village of Great Altcar would be Lancashire’s second fracking site. The decision will be made by Lancashire County Council, probably later this year.
A report by West Lancashire planners described the application as inappropriate development in the green belt. There were no ‘very special circumstances’ needed to justify the scheme, the planners said. The scheme would also be detrimental to visual amenity and the landscape character, they concluded.
Mike Wainwright, the chair of Downholland Parish Council, told the meeting:
“We have received strong representations from local residents who want their concerns to be taken seriously. They have a feeling of powerlessness that this should be imposed on them. It should be refused.”
Cllr Wainwright said the 12m high gas flare and a 37m high rig proposed in the application would fail to preserve the openness of the green belt. The scheme had not demonstrated a need that would outweigh harm, he said.
Cllr David OToole, the West Lancashire Borough Council ward member for the area, said the site had been described in the proposals as remote. But he said:
“It is not remote at all. There are a number of houses along that road [to the proposed site]. The application would be a huge loss of amenity for people living in those houses.”
Cllr O’Toole also said the development would have an impact on local roads.
Cllr Cynthia Dereli said shale gas was not a resource that would help to tackle climate change. She also said fracking could potentially pollute Lancashire’s water supplies.