Frack rally plan as inquiry nears end

Fracking public enquiry at Blackpool Football Club.  Pictured is Wendy McKay.
Fracking public enquiry at Blackpool Football Club. Pictured is Wendy McKay.
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Anti-fracking protesters are set to mark the end of the public inquiry into Cuadrilla’s bid to test frack at two sites on the Fylde with a rally at Blackpool Football Club.

Friday marks the penultimate day at the six-week appeal by Cuadrilla against Lancashire County Council’s refusal of permission for fracking at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road.

Legal representatives for the Preston New Road Action Group, the Roseacre Awareness Group and North West Friends of the Earth, all opposing fracking, will sum up their evidence alongside Cuadrilla supporters the North West Lancashire Chamber of Commerce.

The inquiry will resume the following Wednesday with the last summing up.

Ebony Johnson, from Frack Free Lancashire, today said: “We have heard a tremendous amount of evidence over the past five weeks from experts in traffic, noise, waste, climate change and public health – and from dozens of well-informed community members who are able to talk with real experience of the devastating impact fracking would have on quality of life in the Fylde. We call on the Inspector and the Secretary of State Greg Clark to listen to our councils who have democratically refused these plans, and our communities who are overwhelmingly saying no to fracking, and refuse these appeals.”

Day 16 of the fracking inquiry began with evidence from Coun Peter Collins of Newton with Clifton Parish Council.

He gave evidence to planning inspector Wendy McKay on what he said was the unsuitability of the chosen route to the Roseacre fracking site through the village of Clifton and then on to the A583 Preston to Blackpool Road.

He said that 16.5m-long HGVs travelling that way would have to use unsuitable country roads.

He said that in its traffic management plan, Cuadrilla had treated the A583 as part of the national strategic road network, when it was not.

He said the chosen route would breach the principal of directness in planning guidelines as there were
other routes which were shorter.

He added: “In his evidence for Cuadrilla earlier in the inquiry, Mr Ojeil agreed that any route through Clifton was far longer than others.

“Policy DM2 of the Joint Lancashire Minerals and Waste Local Plan is concerned with minimising mineral and waste road miles, therefore we would expect to choose a shorter route. It would result in an extra 850km every day.

Inspector Wendy McKay asked him if there was any other route he would consider more appropriate.

He replied that it was difficult as all the routes were rural and had different disadvantages.

He said: “When I found out that this was the preferred route I was totally astounded.”

The hearing went on to consider planning conditions that would be imposed on the applications if the Secretary of State ruled that they should go ahead.

Friends of the Earth asked for two extra conditions to be included to those already discussed by Cuadrilla and Lancashire County Council.

Estelle Dehon, counsel for FOE, said they wished to submit conditions to protect public health and on waste water.

She said no development should be allowed to go ahead until a baseline study into public health had been carried out beforehand within 2km of the developments and until a system of monitoring was in place.

However, Nathalie Lieven, counsel for Cuadrilla, took issue with the condition, saying health considerations were not directly relevant to the planning guidance and the development. She said they were ‘inappropriate and unenforceable’.

FOE also asked that no development could commence until suitable arrangements were in place to deal with the waste water generated by the fracking sites.

But Ms Lieven, for Cuadrilla, stated that they could not agree to such conditions since it was for regulatory authorities, in this case the Environment Agency, to deal with waste water rather than a planning authority consideration.