Fury over new Fylde fracking inquiry

Anti-fracking protestors

Anti-fracking protestors

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A Roseacre man has written to the Secretary of State to challenge his decision to appoint a new inspector to look at the shelved bid to frack in the area.

The move has been welcomed by campaigners on the Fylde who have attacked Sajid Javid’s decision in October to reconsider Cuadrilla’s bid to frack at Roseacre Wood, currently on hold due to HGV traffic safety concerns on the rural lanes.

The Communities Secretary said that if the shale gas exploration firm can come up with a suitable traffic management plan, he would be minded to let fracking go ahead.

In doing so, he effectively re-opened the public inquiry and has said a new inspector will be appointed to replace Wendy McKay who presided over the six week hearing at Blackpool Football Club earlier this spring.

Julian Burton, who lives 500m from the Roseacre drill site, has asked the Secretary of State to reject Cuadrilla’s appeal in line with the recommendations of the planning inspector and to reverse his decision to re-open the inquiry, otherwise he will consider bringing a statutory challenge.

He said: “Cuadrilla has had numerous opportunities to find suitable mitigation measures for the fracking application and, over a period of two and a half years, they have failed to do so.

“They are now to be given yet another opportunity.

“The new Planning Inspector (as yet, unidentified) will have no prior knowledge of evidence previously submitted and will, therefore, be completely unfamiliar with the issues around the Roseacre Wood site. This will mean yet more stress and uncertainty for the community and more cost and effort for the local campaigning group.”

The planning inspectorate said of the decision to replace the inspector: “This is because, given her conclusions on Appeal C [Roseacre Wood] it could be considered, or perceived, by the parties – or anybody else – that, so far as addressing the matters that the Secretary of State has set down, her mind was already made up.”

A spokesman for Roseacre Awareness Group said: “We fully support Mr Burton’s action in this matter. We regard the proposed re-opening of the Public Inquiry as being grossly unfair.

“We have spent a great deal of time and effort in making the case that the Roseacre Wood site is not suitable for fracking.”