Parent power bid to block fracking

Parents and children from Weeton St Michaels Primary School protest against fracking in the area.  Parent Dawn Ansell holds a petition.
Parents and children from Weeton St Michaels Primary School protest against fracking in the area. Parent Dawn Ansell holds a petition.
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Dozens of worried parents have joined together in protest over plans for shale gas ‘fracking’ near the school their children attend.

Parents at Weeton St Michael’s have launched a petition to try to halt plans for the gas drilling site at Little Plumpton.

I have informed the school that our children will be removed should fracking get the go ahead here.

Parent at the school, Lynda Shannan

The proposed site, which is to be reviewed by Lancashire County Council’s planning committee next month, is a mile from the school.

Parents claim they have not been given enough information about the process and want planners to reject the scheme over what they say are safety fears.

So far, more than 200 people have signed the petition in just a week.

Claire Stephenson, 36, whose daughters Phoebe, nine, and Evelyn, five, attend Weeton St Michael’s, said if the application is granted several parents would remove their children from the school.

She added: “The main reason parents decided to group together and petition the county council is the lack of information on the potential risk factors of a primary school being one mile away from an industrial operation.

“No dialogue has been entered into with the parents, and they were unhappy with the response from the governors and county hall, continually stating they are unable to discuss it.

“The prevailing wind is south-westerly, and therefore most of the time, the fumes from any fugitive gas emissions, the many diesel compressors and generators will blow polluted air directly over the school and according to a recent journal, may well exacerbate respiratory and skin conditions.”

Lynda Shannan, from Westby, added: “I have informed the school that our children will be removed should fracking get the go ahead here.

“Fracking has been banned in Scotland and Wales, we want a ban in England too.”

Shale gas exploration involves the firing of a mixture of water and chemicals underground to crack, or fracture, shale rock.

The Preston New Road site is one of two, along with Roseacre, which gas firm Cuadrilla hopes to frack at on the Fylde coast.

A Cuadrilla spokesman said: “We would like to reassure the parents of children at Weeton St Michael’s our proposed exploration activities will not adversely impact people’s health and that schools and other communities are certainly not at risk.

“A detailed environmental assessment of the operations proposed for the site at Preston New Road has concluded that any resulting emissions would be insignificant. All of this information has been made publicly available.”

Pam Weeden, headteacher of Weeton St Michael’s said the school must remain neutral on such topics.

She said: “I understand parents’ concerns and I can reassure them the safety and wellbeing of our children is our main priority.

“If fracking is approved at Preston New Road then we will, of course, press for reassurances over safety.”

Tim Cook, a spokesman for Blackpool Fracking for a Better Future group, added: “We have been following this specific scare story on the anti-frackers’ social media pages and noted they were keen to point out it is more than a mile from the proposed site, but neglecting to state it’s 150m from the M55 motorway.

“Pollutants from the M55 would exceed anything which might possibly come from the fracking site.”