Lancashire County Councillors are preparing evidence to present at a planning inquiry into a Fylde fracking site after unanimously rejecting a revised transport plan for the proposed operation.
Planning inspector Melvyn Middleton will start a public inquiry into shale gas exploration firm Cuadrilla's proposal to create a drilling site at Roseacre Wood on April 10, the proceedings having been reopened by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid after a previous inquiry recommended the proposal be rejected on road safety grounds.
At a meeting at County Hall, Lancashire County Council’s development control committee voted unanimously to reject a new traffic management plan for the site whihc aims to divide HGV movements to and from the site across three routes to ease pressure on the narrow rural roads in the area.
Residents spoke at Wednesday's meeting to oppose the plans saying that the roads, which lack footpaths in many areas, are used by cyclists, Horse riders and walkers and that there was not enough room for two HGVs to pass each other safely.
Speakers included representatives from Treales, Wharles & Roseacre, Elswick, Inskip with Sowerby, Greenhalgh with Thistleton, Newton with Clifton parish councils, Liz Oades (County Councillor for Roseacre) and the Roseacre Awareness Group.
Cuadrilla has said expert transport consultants hired to look at routes to the proposed site say their plan is safe.
Cuadrilla’s chief executive Francis Egan has previously said: “We believe that the proposed new route strategy and associated traffic management plan will meet the Secretary of State’s requirement to address outstanding highway safety questions. We will review feedback from the public consultation and look forward to presenting our proposals at the public inquiry next April.”
Planning officers looking at the plans, which included putting in numerous new passing places, using traffic lights and restrictions on vehicle movements, had recommended refusal and the councillors agreed.
The measures will now be discussed at the planning inquiry in April which will take place at the Bloomfield Road stadium of Blackpool Football Club.
They are divided into three routes. The firm's Green Route would run from A585 to the Site via B5269 Thistleton Road, Elswick High Street and Roseacre Road.
The Red Route from A585 to the Site via B5269 Thistleton Road, Elswick High Street, Lodge Lane, Preston Road, and Higham Side Road and through the Ministry of Defence’s Inskip site.
The Blue Route runs from A583 to the site via Clifton Lane, Station Road, Dagger Road, Salwick Road, and Inskip Road and through the DHFCS facility.
Many of the councillor speakers at the Development Control meeting warned that the roads were narrow and in places had tight 90 degree bends.
They were also concerned that HGVs would increase the traffic problems already seen at the Thistleton Road junction.
Barbara Richardson Chair of RAG said she was absolutely delighted with the result. It could not have gone better for us. Once again the Councillors were 100% in agreement and voted unanimously to reject these ill conceived plans. Sometimes there is no magic solution despite "Cuadrilla trying to pull the wool over our eyes" - a residents words not mine.
"There was little doubt in their minds that these proposals would put the public at risk. We want to thank them for taking the time to travel the routes, to see for themselves the dangers, and for allowing us to speak this morning.
"I can not believe we are still having to fight this after four years when it has been rejected at every level; from the residents, all the parish councils, Fylde Borough Council, who by the way also voted emphatically and unanimously against the plans saying the impacts would be severe, LCC's Highways and Planning Officers, and our two Conservative MP’s.
"These poorly devised mitigation measures actually make matters worse putting even more lives at risk. It is not about ‘if’ a serious accident occurs but ‘when'.