‘We are being used as shale guinea pig’

Residents attending the meeting at Elswick Village Hall
Residents attending the meeting at Elswick Village Hall
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Fracking firms are using the Fylde coast as a “guinea pig” for the rest of the county, campaigners have claimed.

And they admit that if they win the battle to stop energy firm Cuadrilla Resources getting permission to drill at two sites on the coast, it will be “like Accrington Stanley beating Chelsea in the FA Cup”.

Around 60 residents from across rural Fylde were at a meeting led by anti-fracking campaigners at Elswick Village Hall, where concerns over Cuadrilla’s applications to drill at Roseacre Wood and Little Plumpton were discussed.

Barbara Richarson, chairman of the Roseacre Awareness Group, believes allowing fracking at the sites would set a dangerous precedent for the entire country.

She said: “184 people live within a kilometre of the two sites with a high proportion of these being children or over 60. If it is deemed that these sites are acceptable for fracking then there would be nowhere not fit to frack on.

“If they get the council’s permission here then they have cracked it.”

The meeting highlighted concerns which include traffic and road safety, noise, water pollution and the impact on people’s health and wildlife.

Barry Warner, a founding member of the Roseacre Awareness Group, believes while the cards are stacked against them, they are determined to fight the plans.

He said “If we win, it will be like Accrington Stanley beating Chelsea in the cup.

“In any other place, it would not happen as they would not bring the levels of risk.” Mr Warner believes that the two earmarked areas of rural Fylde are being used as a “guinea pig” due to their location.

He said: “If they told everyone they were planning on bringing a site on Lytham Green, there would be no chance of it happening.

“Just because there might be more people affected or because its a site that is seen as more iconic does not change anything.” With the decision looming on January 28, Mrs Richardson is worried that fracking might get the go ahead should the councillors listen to the “Cuadrilla PR machine”.

She said: “If the councillors look at the facts in front of them then I’m sure it will be rejected.

“But with the Government rhetoric and the Cuadrilla PR machine behind it that overstate and over-hype the benefits, I am worried that they will listen to to that and accept the plans for the wrong reasons.”