Frack rigs ‘would change rural area’

Fracking public enquiry at Blackpool Fottball Club
Fracking public enquiry at Blackpool Fottball Club
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Cuadrilla’s plan to drill an exploration rig near Roseacre Wood would “radically change” the look of what was mainly an agricultural area, a public inquiry has heard.

Speaking at the hearing at Blackpool Football Ground into Lancashire County Council’s refusal of Cuadrilla’s bids to frack at two sites on the Fylde, Kenneth Halliday said the proposed development would have a significant on the area.

The landscape expert for the Roseacre Awareness Group said the view would be significantly hit by the vertical drilling rig, supporting rig, gas flare towers and acoustic hoarding sand silos. He said it would be ruined for residents, walkers cyclists and other road users in the area

He said: “It is going to be radically changed and is not plausible to suggest there will be no significant effects on that stretch of road.”

Under questioning by Roseacre’s counsel Robin Green, he said that in his view the visual representation in Cuadrilla’s report was not in line with current standards.

He said the County Council said the pictures were not satisfactory – but the appellant had not subsequently altered them.

He said it was clear from the site visit that it underplayed the potential visual effects and should not be taken lightly because it influenced the council officers at the time.

Cross-examining Mr Halliday, Nathalie Lieven counsel for Cuadrilla, said the drilling rigs would only be there at the start and that for much of the rest of the six year period most of the equipment would be below the proposed acoustic banks of 4m.

She said: “After the two and a half years nothing above the fence apart from occasional service rig – is it your opinion that it will have a significant landscape and visual effect?”

She asked if he really thought any lighting on the site at night would have a worse impact than the MOD radio masts at Inskip which were 150m tall.

He replied they could not be described as dominating the view since their lattice structure meant they were more see through than a drilling rig.

Ms Lieven pointed out that all landscape and visual impact effects were fully reversible.

Later Roseacre’s noise expert, Edward Clarke, criticised Cuadrilla’s noise survey for the site and said the proposed development would be “annoying” and intrusive especially when drilling was 24 hours.

He said in its evidence Cuadrilla’s consultants Arup had used the wrong guidelines which suggested that below 45 db was adequate.

He said a drilling noise level of 42db as has been suggested would be far too high for a quiet rural area such as Roasecare Wood.

He said: “42 cannot always be the answer. Lower noise levels should be targeted and related to background noise levels which in this instance are low.”

Questioned by Robin Green about what the level should be, he answered: “It lies between 30 and 35 db I would say. The background level being 30 is being generous, it is probably lower than that.

“The noise of drilling for hours on end will sound just like an industrial facility.”