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Campaigners' anger over lighting at fracking site

Lighting on the drilling rig at Preston New Road. The rig has now been removed and a new fracking rig will be erected on the site ready for the first fracking due around the start of October
Lighting on the drilling rig at Preston New Road. The rig has now been removed and a new fracking rig will be erected on the site ready for the first fracking due around the start of October

Councillors and anti-fracking campaigners say they are concerned about plans over lighting at the Preston New Road drill site.

Cuadrilla has submitted an application for the next phase of operations at Preston New Road, actual fracking due in the coming weeks, which involves a 28m high tower with lighting.

It is set to be decided by the county council officers under delegated powers but this has caused concern and moves are afoot to have it debated by councillors at a planning meeting instead.

Campaigner Bob Dennett said he feared it was a case of “salami-slicing” or “planning creep” – where a developer, once they have planning permission granted on a scheme, comes back and alters conditions surrounding it.

He said: “The lightin proposed originally was 13m high, but the one in the application is 28m, close on 100ft.

"They say the lights will be angled towards the ground but they are more than twice as high and people nearby fear there will be substantial impact. This should not be delegated, they are trying to subvert democracy.”

Fylde county councillor Paul Hayhurst said it should be referred to councillors. He said: “I have argued that in view of the public interest in fracking at Preston New Road that all matters such as this should be dealt with by the committee, to enable members of the public and particularly local residents to see that they are properly debated and dealt with in a transparent. manner.

"This is especially important as one of the concerns the committee had with Cuadrilla’s original application was the impact of lighting from the site.”

County coun Gina Dowding said: “Given the frustration felt by local residents at the way the permission was granted by Government which overruled the development committee’s decision, it is important that local people get to scrutinise and vote on any changes to the conditions via their elected representatives.”

A spokesperson from Preston New Road Action Group said: “Residents living close to the site are concerned that lighting at a height of 28m will shine well above the perimeter fence and will be clearly visible to them, further degrading their quality of life. Lighting at this height seems to be most unnecessary.”

Dianne Westgarth who is one of the closest residents to site, said: “The above-ground level lighting will be visible above the perimeter fence which will have an adverse impact on us all. We are especially concerned with the cumulative effects of such bright lighting along our lane which has never had street lights.”

“We have already had this industry thrust upon us, against local decisions, and Cuadrilla have continually managed to adjust planning conditions as they go. This simply isn’t acceptable.”

But a spokesman for Cuadrilla said it was not a planning application, just part of the planning process as they moved to the next phase. They said on a scheme that had already been agreed it was normal practice that planning officers discharge planning conditions as the scheme went through its various steps.

They said the tower was a coiled tubing tower, part of the fracking equipment, and not a lighting gantry.

They added the lights would be internal strip lighting on stairways for safety and less obtrusive than those on the site so far.