The government has been asked what assessment it has made of the decision by Aurora Energy Resources to drop its plans to frack near Formby in Lancashire.
The company announced the decision last month, blaming a “de facto ban on shale gas activity”. It said the moratorium on fracking in England was “out of line” with the regulation of other industries.
In a parliamentary question last week, the Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Greaves, asked the government:
“what assessment they have made of the withdrawal by Aurora Energy Resources of their planning application for fracking at Altcar Moss, Lancashire; and what advice they will give to companies about future fracking projects in the light of this withdrawal.”
The energy minister, Lord Callanan, replied:
“The Government cannot comment on individual planning applications. The Government’s position on shale gas policy remains unchanged, as set out in a Written Ministerial Statement on 4 November 2019. Planning authorities should continue to take national planning policy and guidance into account in considering any relevant applications.”
Aurora wanted to drill and frack two shale gas wells at Altcar Moss, near the village of Great Altcar. It was the first planning application in the UK for fracking since Cuadrilla caused a series of small earthquakes following fracks at Preston New Road near Blackpool in 2018.
Lancashire County Council had been expected to make a decision on Aurora’s plans in August or September.
Three parish councils, West Lancashire Borough Council, campaign groups and individuals had objected.
A consultant to the county council recommended the application should not be approved because “insufficient evidence has been provided to support the conclusion of no likely significant effects” on protected wildlife.
The government’s nature conservation adviser, Natural England, said it “may need to object” unless Aurora provided more information on the impact of the plans on wildlife.
Aurora said it would “address the issue” of the fracking moratorium with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.