Plans to frack at Roseacre Wood are refused

Roseacre Wood
Roseacre Wood

Shale gas firm Cuadrilla has been refused permission to drill for gas at the second of its two first choice exploration sites in Lancashire.

The Bamber Bridge based company, which has already drilled two wells and carried out horizontal fracking at Preston New Road near Little Plumpton, had also wanted to drill up to four wells in a farmer's field near Roseacre Wood.

Lancashire County Council had initially refused the application but Cuadrilla appealed and two planning inquiries followed.

The first refused the bid on traffic safety grounds since the Planning Inspector was concerned that HGVs using the narrow country lanes near Roasecre and Wharles would pose a danger to walkers, cyclists, horse riders and other road users.

The then Secretary of State for Communities Sajid Javid called in the issue and said he was minded to allow the drilling if the road issues could be tackled and a second planning inquiry was arranged under a different inspector.

Cuadrilla came up with an alternative road plan, involving three different routes to the site and a further hearing was held at Blackpool FC's Bloomfield Road stadium in 2018.

But today the new Secretary of State James Brokenshire has ruled that the roads safety issue had not been fully addressed.

A letter from his department states: "The proposed development would have a serious and very significant adverse impact on the safety of people using the public highway. He considers that it is not possible to conclude that the demonstrable harm associated with that issue would be eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level.

"He considers that highway safety issues carry very substantial weight against the proposal, and given the potentially very serious consequences.

"He further considers that the economic impacts on local business, and the impacts on community recreation and amenity carry moderate weight against the proposal."

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said that the company was disappointed but would press on with its plans at the Preston New Road site.

They said: “We are naturally disappointed about the decision on Roseacre Wood and will examine the details in full before reaching a position.

"However, we continue to be focused on the shale gas exploration site in Preston New Road, where we have recently released very encouraging flow test results from the UK’s first horizontal shale gas well.

"Cuadrilla and its investors remain committed to this opportunity and the overall prize for the UK, which includes energy security, jobs and revenue for the country. These are all well within our grasp at Preston New Road and we seek to further prove this concept in the weeks and months to come.”

Jamie Peters, campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: “This is fantastic news which will be a huge relief to Roseacre residents. It’s also a triumph for the tireless campaigners who have worked long and hard for this outcome.

“But many other communities across England are still faced with the threat of fracking – the government must also listen to them and accept that this industry is unviable.
“With scientists warning that there is so little time left to get on top of climate change, it’s clearer than ever that the future lies in clean, renewable energy.”