Government overrules Lancashire rejection of fracking scheme

The government has overruled Lancashire County Council’s decision to refuse permission for a fracking site.

The local authority had originally rejected Cuadrilla’s plans for fracking in two parts of the county, after the proposal attracted considerably opposition from the public and on the grounds of noise and traffic impact.

However, Sajid Javid, communities secretary, has moved to allow fracking at the Preston New Road site, following an appeal by Cuadrilla.

The communities secretary has also postponed a decision on the Roseacre site but said he was ‘minded to allow the appeal’ subject to conditions.

Nonetheless, councillor Marcus Johnstone, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, argued: “A local council, made up of councillors democratically elected by local people, and charged with serving their interests, is exactly the right body to make decisions on local matters.

“It is clear that the government supports the development of a shale gas industry, but I would ask them to do more to address the concerns of local communities and the councillors who represent them by supporting the best environmental controls.

“The secretary of state's decision to allow more time to consider issues related to highway safety around the Roseacre site reflects the committee's concerns on this issue. We will now await information from the applicant on the details required to fulfil the planning conditions set out for the Preston New Road site.”

Meanwhile, Francis Egan, Cuadrilla chief executive, said: "We have been through an exhaustive environmental impact assessment on this. We have assessed everything; noise, traffic, water, emissions, etc.”

Egan added: ”The Environment Agency are entirely comfortable with it."

Pam Foster, co-founder of Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, countered: "This is a total denial of democracy. Our parish council, our borough council, our county council all threw out this application.

"We have pursued every democratic channel we can do, there's nothing left for us. We're pretty disgusted and very upset."