The West Lancashire MP, Rosie Cooper, has urged people to oppose a plan to frack for shale gas near Formby.
Speaking at a campaign meeting on the Aurora Energy Resources’ application, she told opponents:
“Who is going to look after your interests if it’s not you? It is really important that you are here.
“Keep doing what you are doing.”
Ms Cooper said the Labour Party had committed to ban fracking in government. “In the meantime, we are going to continue to campaign against it”, she said.
The proposal for two shale gas wells in the green belt near the village of Great Altcar is due to be decided by Lancashire County Council’s planning committee, probably later this year.
Ms Cooper said:
“You need to talk to councillors on the committee to ensure they understand it in the way that you do. … You are the experts.
“The parish council has objected. I will object. We need to keep those objections going in.”
Last night’s meeting was the third in a week, organised by local anti-fracking groups, which attracted more than 350 people.
Maureen Mills, of one of the groups, Halsall Against Fracking, urged the meeting:
“My message to you is ‘object, object, object’.
“We have been able to prepare ourselves for Aurora’s application. We have raised money to pay for planning consultants to advise us on how to oppose the scheme. We have the best in the business on our side.
“But the number of objections will have an effect on the committee.”
The meeting heard concerns that the proposals could create noise, increased traffic, air and water pollution, and contribute to poor health and climate change. Wildlife habitats, agriculture and farming could be damaged, campaigners said. The application contained no emergency plan, they added, and the nearest accident and emergency departments were nearly 10 miles away by already congested roads.
Pauline O’Keeffe, of Frack Free Formby, said much of Formby was underlain by sand. If fracking at Great Altcar induced earth tremors – as it had at Preston New Road – this could cause liquification, where the sand behaves like a liquid, she said. The result would potentially damage buildings, Ms O’Keeffe added.
John Wilkinson, also Frack Free Formby, said the area around the proposed site could be deliberately flooded at times of high rainfall. The pad could find itself underwater, he said. Mr Wilkinson added that interconnected geological faults could become conduits for gas and waste fracking fluid. Larger faults could become lubricated and slip, he said, causing earth tremors.
Alasdair Roxburgh, a director at Friends of the Earth, grew up in the area around Great Altcar. He said:
“Friends of the Earth are with you. We will support you along the way. Will continue to look at ways we can support you. We will stop fracking in the UK.”
Barbara Richardson, chair of Roseacre Awareness Group, which campaigned to block Cuadrilla’s fracking plans at Roseacre Wood, said:
“You have to fight this every single step of the way. You have to get objections in. You have to get MPs working for you. If you put in the effort you will get people behind you. The tide is turning against this industry. You can win.
On Thursday, West Lancashire Borough Council, which was consulted on the Great Altcar application, voted to oppose the proposals. It argued that the proposal was inappropriate development in the green belt and there were no special circumstances to justify it. The council also said the scheme would be “detrimental to visual amenity and landscape character”.
Sefton Borough Council, whose boundary is about a mile from the proposed site, has also objected. It said:
“The supporting evidence base is fundamentally flawed, forming an unreliable basis to accurately assess impacts or identify suitable mitigation”.
Sefton said the application had not considered forecast traffic flows or the impact on road junctions in its borough. There had been no assessment of the impact of heavy vehicles on a bridge on a proposed lorry route, the council said. It also said there was inadequate information on the impact on air quality, noise and bird strikes.
Downholland Parish Council has also opposed the application on green belt grounds and possible harm to wildlife, groundwater quality, agricultural land, local roads and the flood risk. The council said there could also be harm from noise pollution and seismic activity.
Lancashire, Manchester and N Merseyside Wildlife Trust and the RSPB said they opposed the application in principle because of the contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. They also said there were inadequate assessments of the impact on populations of overwintering wildfowl.
Natural England said planning permission should not be granted because a Habitats Regulations Assessment submitted with the application cannot justify the conclusion that there would no significant effects on protected sites. Separate report from DrillOrDrop
There have been no objections from Highways England, Public Health England, Ministry of Defence (RAF Woodvale) and the local flood authority.
Comments from members of the public are no longer listed online on Lancashire County Council’s planning website. At the time of writing, an online petition against the proposal has attracted more than 2,500 signatures.
Reporting from this meeting was made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers