Council faces bill of £330k for costs in fracking battle

County Hall is facing a bill of more than �300,000 in legal fees
County Hall is facing a bill of more than �300,000 in legal fees
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Lancashire County Council will face a bill for costs in excess of £330,000 over the planning battle for two bids to frack on the Fylde.

A spokesman confirmed Cuadrilla has been granted costs relating to the council’s refusal of permission to install a monitoring array near the Preston New Road site.

But the total could rise further depending on the final outcome of the application to frack at the Roseacre site.

If communities minister Sajid Javid decides that a new traffic management plan can be put together to make the rural roads near Roseacre safe and allows Cuadrilla’s appeal, then that total could rise

further.

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County councillors have been critical of the Government’s decision to give the go-ahead to fracking at Preston New Road, saying it over-ruled local democracy.

County Coun Marcus Johnstone, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: “This was one of the biggest planning applications ever put before any council – literally tens of thousands of people responded to the consultation processes, and the applications involved substantial levels of technical detail.

“Our development control committee carefully considered many hours of evidence both for and against the proposal, and the committee members ultimately cast their vote based on the evidence they heard and whether they thought the proposal was acceptable in planning terms.”

Communities Minister Sajid Javid announced on Thursday that gas exploration company Cuadrilla can drill and test frack for gas at a site on farm land off Preston New Road at Little Plumpton near Blackpool.

He rejected a sister bid for hydraulic fracturing on land at Roseacre Wood, but said that if highway safety considerations can be overcome, fracking could go ahead there as well.

The decision has pleased supporters of the new approach to unlocking gas trapped in rocks deep beneath the ground who say it will bring energy security, jobs and cash for the economy.

But it infuriated campaigners who fear fracking may cause earth tremors, pollution, plus noise and traffic pollution for a rural part of the county, and who say overturning decisions locally is an affront to democracy.