Fracking inquiry hears of potential dangers from 'juggernauts'

The Hand and Dagger junction as seen in a Google image
The Hand and Dagger junction as seen in a Google image
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HGV drivers going to the proposed Roseacre Wood site would download an app on their mobile phones to help them get there, a Cuadrilla lawyer has revealed.

The penultimate day of the planning inquiry into whether fracking can take place at a second Fylde drill site opened at Blackpool Football Club with inspector Melvyn Middleton taking submissions from Cuadrilla’s QC Nathalie Lieven.

She said: “An app for people’s smart phones which assists HGV drivers to talk them into the passing places. All HGV drivers attending the site will be required to download this app visiting the site.”

Tom Hastey, Roseacre Awareness Group’s expert traffic witness, who said he had 40 years experience in transport, gave evidence to make the case that the roads were completely unsuitable for articulated vehicles.

He said he had carried out a risk assessment of each of Cuadrilla’s three proposed routes to the Roseacre drill site and had “serious concerns”.

He said the HGVs of up to 44 tonnes would be too big for the narrow country lanes and he laid out markings on the floor of the inquiry to show how big “these juggernauts” were – 16.5m long and 3.2m wide including wing mirrors.

He said articulated vehicles pivoted behind the driver’s cab and the trailer followed the shortest route in a corner making tackling several corners on each route difficult.

He said the trailer would take the shortest route around the corner which in many cases would lead to the it being on the wrong side of the road and therefore a hazard to oncoming traffic.

He also said the weight of the vehicles would mean their tyres would dig into grass verges and crumble the edge of the roadway. He added that if the verges were wet the ruts dug by the trucks cold lead to HGVs turning over as the momentum of their load took over.

In one example at the Hand and Dagger pub going between Station Road and Dagger Lane, he said: “Trailers will take the shortest route against the camber.

“I have extreme concerns due to high centre of gravity and if loaded with liquid the possibility of rollover is immense.”

Nathalie Lieven said Mr Hastey's evidence did not take the slower speed of fracking HGVs using the roads and proposed mitigation such as temporary traffic lights and the plan to introduce around 30 passing places.

The inquiry evidence concludes today, before the inspector retires to make his decision. This will be passed to the secretary of State for Communities Sajid Javed who will ultimately decide on whether fracking can be allowed at Roaseacre Wood.

If he does so, it is likely that the residents will ask for a judicial review.