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Government overturns council rejection of fracking

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has today allowed an appeal from company Cuadrilla that will see fracking go ahead at the Preston New Road site in Lancashire. 

Mr Javid also deferred an appeal to reverse a council decision against fracking at a nearby site at Roseacre Wood. This allows Cuadrilla and other parties to ‘provide any further evidence on highway safety… before reaching a final decision’. It was stated that the secretary of state is ‘minded to allow’ this appeal providing concerns are addressed.

The Lancashire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England had engaged with both applications

Jackie Copley, planning manager at CPRE Lancashire, today comments:

“We have been calling for adequate environmental safeguards, such as minimum drilling depths, and real time monitoring to be agreed in advance of planning approvals. But neither of these are required in the environmental permits approved by the Environment Agency.

“While the Preston New Road site has been put through without adequate safeguards, it is a small consolation that the impact of heavy infrastructure and traffic at Roseacre Wood has been identified. Whether the Government will show more commitment to environmental concerns there remains to be seen.

“It is now important that the Oil and Gas Authority fully regulate the approved site as part of the Hydraulic Fracture Plan, but this won’t be in the public domain for years. This has not set a strong precedent for commitment to environmental safeguards and local consultation.”

The Campaign to Protect Rural England's senior energy campaigner Kim Hagen adds:

"The Government’s decision allows testing the viability of fracking at the Preston New Road site. Whether commercial production of shale gas will ever be economic in the UK remains highly uncertain. The costs of putting in place sufficient environmental safeguards may make large-scale fracking financially unviable.

"It is very worrying that the minister seems 'minded to' overrule the concerns of the independent planning inspector in relation to the Roseacre Wood site. The inspector had grave concerns about allowing fifty HGVs a day to use small rural roads to reach it. By contrast, the minister appears to want to prioritise the creation of a burgeoning UK fracking industry over genuine local concerns about the impact of fracking."



The Lancashire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England has engaged with the decision making process for the planning applications and environmental permits submitted by Cuadrilla for permission to frack four horizontal wells (each up to 2000 m in length) at each of the sites.

CPRE Lancashire believes it is crucial to have monitoring arrangements in place to ensure that fracking is confined to specified target formations at sufficient depth and executed in a manner that ensures an acceptable degree of risk.

For this reason the branch had opposed both planning applications, as the Environment Agency failed to secure this aspect of environmental regulation as part of the publicly available environmental permit. In the case of Roseacre Wood the adverse impact from considerable HGV lorry movements on the network of narrow rural lanes was considered insurmountable.

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