Minister’s letter offers clues to policy on Fylde frack appeal

Mark Menzies, Conservative MPe for Fylde
Mark Menzies, Conservative MPe for Fylde
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nti-fracking campaigners on the Fylde have welcomed their MP’s commitment to localism in the light of a letter received from a minister about next year’s appeal.

Mark Menzies has received a letter from communities minister James Wharton which reveals Government policy on appeals such as the one by energy company Cuadrilla against Lancashire County Council’s refusal of its bid to test frack at two Fylde sites.

In it he states that the planning inspector will visit the two sites, at Preston New Road and Roseacre and will “take into account the views of the local planning authority and local residents before reaching a decision to allow or dismiss an appeal.”

It goes on to say: “While a Planning inspector may come to a different view from the local planning authority and allow the appeal, this does not mean that they have disregarded the views of the local authority or local residents - rather they have attributed different weight to the issues in coming to their decision.

“Currently some two thirds of appeals are refused, so the decision of the local authority is upheld in the majority of cases”.

Barbara Richardson from the Roseacre Awareness Group thanked Mark Menzies for his help and said: “I am a little concerned as to what he means by the Planning Inspector may attribute different weight to the issues.

“I sincerely hope, when the planning inspector does come and visit both sites, he will see for himself just how unsuitable both these sites are for this industry which poses a serious threat to both our local environment and communities.

“Let us hope the planning inspector is allowed to do their job properly without undue influence from Westminster and the oil and gas industry and that the views of residents and their elected representatives carries sufficient weight to ensure these appeals are thrown out.”

Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “The Minister’s correspondence was in response to my letter to the Secretary of State where I outlined my concerns over these appeals.

“As someone who is a strong supporter of localism I believe the council’s original decisions over these sites should be upheld and I wanted to put my view on record to be considered as part of the appeals process.

“I have said all along that these decisions should be made at a local level and I stand by that.”