Fracking: Policing costs 'should be met nationally'

The cost of policing Cuadrilla's Preston New Road fracking site was almost 6m last year.
The cost of policing Cuadrilla's Preston New Road fracking site was almost 6m last year.
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Fresh calls have been made for police forces to get more help from the Government to cover the cost of policing fracking protests.

The cost of policing the fracking site at Preston New Road, where Cuadrilla is drilling for shale gas, was £5.9m last year.

Lancashire's police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw last year said his calls for extra support to meet these costs - at a time when force budgets are coming under increasing pressure - fell on deaf ears.

Now his plea has been echoed by an MP in North Yorkshire, where rival gas firm Third Energy plans to drill for shale gas at its site in Kirby Misperton.

Dozens of arrests have been made at that site, with policing costs already reaching more than £600,000.

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton, has revealed that he has met with policing minister Nick Hurd, with further meetings set for this month as he calls for financial support.

“I am hoping to get the support of the police and crime commissioner, Julia Mulligan, to make the case that North Yorkshire should only stand reduced costs of policing the area as it is clearly a national protest,” he said.

Mrs Mulligan has previously said she was keeping 'a close eye' on the bill.

Forces can apply for Government support for cost over one per cent of their budget. In Lancashire's case, that figure stands at £2.6m, while for North Yorkshire it is £1.4m.

Mr Grunshaw's calls for extra Government cash to cover the policing bill in Lancashire had received no response by November.

Protest activity in the county is expected to increase in the spring, with a three-month anti-fracking drive planned from April.

And police resources could be stretched further if Cuadrilla is granted permission to frack at a second Lancashire site at Roseacre Wood, with a planning inquiry due to open April 10.

Lancashire County Council last month voted against a revised transport plan for the proposed operation and will fight the firm's appeal against its decision to refuse permission to drill for shale gas at the site.