A second fracking site in Lancashire would be "costly" to county's police, says councillor

The Preston New Road fracking site has been policed since protests began in January 2017.
The Preston New Road fracking site has been policed since protests began in January 2017.
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A second fracking site in Lancashire would require extra government funding to cover policing costs, according to a member of the county’s Police and Crime Panel (PCP).

Liz Oades, who is also a county councillor for Fylde East, was speaking at a meeting of the of the group which oversees the work of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

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Energy firm Cuadrilla is currently awaiting the outcome of a public inquiry into its application to frack in the Roseacre Wood area. The company announced yesterday that it was poised to begin fracking “in the next few weeks” at its existing site on Preston New Road.

County Cllr Oades told the PCP: “If we have another site, then how we are going to police it without help from government, I don’t know. It could be extremely costly for Lancashire.”

Lancashire Constabulary has maintained a presence alongside Preston New Road since it became the focus of anti-fracking protests when exploratory work began in January 2017. Up to 100 officers per day were reported to be involved in the operation last year.

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Panel members heard that the government has now indicated that it is “willing to have a discussion” about the cost of policing fracking sites.

Steve Freeman, Chief Finance Officer for the PCC, said: “Government recognises that whilst Lancashire is the principal site for fracking at the moment, others are due to begin elsewhere in the country. It is reviewing the way all fracking sites are policed.”

In the last financial year, the government provided Lancashire Constabulary with a “special grant” of £1.4m towards the £7m cost of its fracking operations. Of that total, only £4m was deemed to be “additional cost”, as opposed to the redeployment of officers who were already on duty.

PCC Clive Grunshaw has repeatedly called on central government to fully fund the force’s role in keeping protestors and road-users safe.

Panel member David Whipp wanted to know whether Lancashire would be reimbursed for past costs if the government review concluded that its formula should have been more generous.

“We have had our grant settlement,” Mr. Freeman said. “If future changes were to affect what might have been paid in the past, the government may look at it.”