Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Recommendations Published on Shale Gas Planning Applications

Lancashire County Council has published its officers' recommendations on the applications by oil and gas company Cuadrilla to explore for shale gas at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood, by drilling, hydraulically fracking and testing the flow of gas, and for monitoring their operations.

The officers' reports can be viewed on the Lancashire County Council website here (as Items 7 & 8).

Preston New Road: Recommended for Conditional approval
The application for Preston New Road has been recommended for approval, subject to a number of conditions controlling time limits, working programme, restriction on permitted development rights, highway matters, soil management, hours of working, safeguarding of water courses, control of noise, dust, lighting, security, ecology, archaeology, landscaping, restoration and aftercare.

Roseacre Wood: Recommended for Refusal
The application for Roseacre Wood has been recommended for refusal for the following reason: The proposed development would be contrary to Policy DM2 of the Joint Lancashire Minerals and Waste Local Plan – Site Allocation and Development Management Policies in that it would generate an increase in traffic, particularly HGV movements, that would result in an unacceptable impact on the rural highway network and on existing road users, particularly vulnerable road users and a reduction in overall highway safety that would be severe.

Associated applications have also been submitted for monitoring arrays. The monitoring arrays are designed to monitor seismic movement and water quality. These applications have been recommended for approval subject to conditions controlling time limits, working programme, site operations, times and hours of working, highway matters, protection of public rights of way, drainage, noise, protection of trees, ecological and archaeological protection, restoration and aftercare.

Council Restricted
The Council's Officers explained in their previous reports on these applications that they are not permitted to consider any issues which should be regulated by other agencies, such as the Environment Agency or the Health and Safety Executive.  They were not permitted to consider the track record record of the applicant. Despite repeated requests, the County Council has still not been permitted to see the unredacted version of the government's report on the potential economic impacts of fracking.

Government pressure
In keeping with the government's policy of fast-tracking fracking, regardless of local concerns, Chancellor George Osborne made it clear in his letter to government ministers that Cuadrilla's demands were to be expedited and that pressure was to be applied to Lancashire County County Council to ensure it understood what was required of it. The Chancellor's letter further explains that if the DCC refuses the applications, Cuadrilla will appeal and the final decision will be taken by the Secretary of State.

Decision Dates
The council's Development Control Committee will determine the applications for Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood at County Hall, Fishergate, Preston, PR1 8XJ on the following dates:

Preston New Road  - Tuesday 23 June 2015 10.00am, continued if necessary on Wednesday 24 June 2015 10.00am.

Roseacre Wood - Thursday 25 June 2015 10.00am, continued if necessary on Friday 26 June 2015 10.00am.

National Demonstrations in Preston
On the first day, Tues 23 June (and on subsequent days), concerned communities from around the UK will descend upon Lancashire County Hall on Fishergate in Preston for a peaceful show of solidarity and resistance. Lancaster people will be travelling down by train and coaches are organised from around the UK (see contact info poster to book seats from further afield). See Frack Free Lancashire on facebook for updates and 'The Frack Stops Here! 2' event page (and second event page).

Natalie Bennet, leader of the Green Party will be coming to present opposition to the applications on Wednesday 24 June (see event page) and activities are planned for all four days.

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