Friday, 24 October 2014

County planners postpone decision deadline for fracking applications

A commercially viable shale gas extraction field
requires 50+ wells

Lancashire County Council has agreed with Cuadrilla to defer the deadline for a decision on planning applications for shale gas development.

The council has received applications from energy firm Cuadrilla to drill, frack, and test gas flows, with associated separate applications for environmental monitoring, at two sites in Lancashire - Preston New Road at Little Plumpton (LCC/2014/0096) and Roseacre Wood at Roseacre (LCC/2014/0101).

Lancashire County Council planners had previously agreed with Cuadrilla that the Preston New Road application would be determined by 5 November 2014 and the application for Roseacre by 18 November.

The county council wrote to Cuadrilla asking for further time to receive, organise, assess, and present all the relevant information for the application to be determined by the committee. The council asked, and Cuadrilla consented, to extend the time agreed to determine the application for the Preston New Road site to 31 December 2014, and to extend the time agreed to determine the Roseacre application to 31 January 2015.

The planners have been working since the applications were received in June to consult with the public and other statutory agencies, and assess the applications, to ensure all the information needed to determine them is put before the Development Control Committee.

Public Meeting
A public meeting on fracking will be held at St John's Minster, Church Street, Preston PR1 3BT, at 7.30pm on Tuesday 4 November 2014. You can find out more at:

Over 10,000 objections have been lodged against the applications to date. Protest camps were set up at both sites, attracting hundreds of protesters, and demonstrations, including a tractor convoy of farmers, have taken place in Preston and continue as part of the occupation of Parliament Square in London.

Cuadrilla / Peel Energy lobby machine
On Cuadrilla's side, local business 'leaders' recruited by their Qatari-owned partners Peel Energy have been treated to briefing sessions by consultant fixers Arup at Peel Tower in the Trafford Centre.

New lobbying groups sponsored by Cuadrilla, such as the 'North West Energy Task Force' redistribute Cuadrilla-sourced publicity material as their own and imply that fracking will bring a cascade of economic benefits to the area. The 'Task Force' has yet to comment on the economic, environmental and geological impacts of the 100s of drilling wells required for economic shale gas extraction, each requiring delivery of roughly 2 million gallons of water per frak job, which must then be safely removed and stored as toxic waste.

Poulton district council was surprised to find that several councillors' favourite local charities and organisations had benefited from grants from Cuadrilla. However this appears not to have influenced their decision to object to the fracking applications.

Infrastructure Bill: fracking amendment
Meanwhile in parliament, where Cuadrilla chairman Lord Browne sits in Cabinet, the Infrastructure Bill was given a last minute amendment to allow fracking, including toxic chemical injection and toxic waste disposal under private homes and land without the owners' consent. The Bill goes to the Report Stage in the House of Lords on 3 November. A Greenpeace petition against it has over 130,000 signatories to date.

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