‘Farce’ claims over frack info summit

Coun Frank Andrews at the meeting with Iain Mathieson from the Oil and Gas Authority
Coun Frank Andrews at the meeting with Iain Mathieson from the Oil and Gas Authority
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More than 150 residents made the most of the opportunity find out more about the impact of fracking in Fylde at an information session held by the Environment Agency.

But the event at Wrea Green Institute was labelled ‘a farce’ and ‘a box-ticking exercise’ by anti-fracking campaigners who feel not enough monitoring of activity is being carried out at the site currently being constructed for shale gas exploration at nearby Preston New Road in Westby.

Bob Dennett, of the Green Party, and fellow campaigners headed straight for the table manned by Lancashire County Council to appeal for greater monitoring and regulation of the site, where timing limitations are in place.

“I just wanted to make the point that we feel there have already been breaches of the agreed regulations and ask that more regular monitoring of activity is carried out,” said Mr Dennett afterwards.

“It’s so frustrating - and events such as this information session are a farce and nothing more than a box-ticking exercise.”

But Coun Frank Andrews, Wrea Green representative on Fylde Council, said the opportunity to find out more about the implications of fracking was very welcome.

“My feeling is that safety and regulation are key,” he said. “If it can be proved to be safe, go ahead; if not, there are bound to be concerns.

“I was reassured by what I heard about the amount of regulation and particularly that radon base tests will be carried out. Safety is a vital factor for everyone.”

Wrea Green resident Eric Murphy said he had been eager to learn more about the implications of fracking and steps being taken to ensure safety.

“It’s like Brexit, isn’t it?” he said. “It is important to hear both sides of the argument before making a decision on whether it is a good thing or not.”

But Kirkham mum-of-one Jayne Boardman said her fears over the implications of fracking had only been confirmed by early activity at the Preston New Road site – and nothing she had heard at the meeting reassured her.

“I am worried about the implications for the environment and for the children - and there should be more monitoring than there appears to have been in the first month on site,” she said.

The Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive, Oil and Gas Authority, Public Health England, Lancashire County Council and Fylde Council were all represented at the information session .

Steve Molyneux, Environment Agency environment manager for Lancashire, said: “We recognise fracking is controversial and we were pleased that the feedback we received showed that people left feeling better informed and confident in the role of the Environment Agency and our partners.”