Councillors to discuss frack plans

Published: Tuesday 23rd June 2015 by The News Editor

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Councillors will meet today to discuss plans to frack for shale gas.

Energy firm Cuadrilla wants to develop two new sites between Preston and Blackpool to explore for shale gas by drilling, fracking and testing the flow of gas.

A report from Lancashire County Council planning officials recommended that one of the sites – at Preston New Road near Little Plumpton – be passed subject to a number of conditions being met such as hours of working, control of noise and highway matters.

The council’s development control committee will have the final say on the matter in a decision expected today or tomorrow at County Hall, Preston.

The go-ahead would enable test fracking at the site with drilling at up to four exploration wells but a separate application would be required if Cuadrilla wished to progress to commercial fracking.

The Government is pushing for the development of a shale gas industry in the UK, claiming it would create jobs and growth, reduce energy prices and cut the country’s reliance on gas imports.

Opponents have raised fears that the process causes earthquakes, can pollute water supplies, and could lead to inappropriate development in the countryside and damage house prices.

Hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – involves pumping water, chemicals and sand at high pressure underground to fracture shale rock and release the gas trapped in it.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Friends of the Earth’s North West campaigner Furqan Naeem said: “Fracking could have a hugely damaging impact on Lancashire residents and their environment and cause more climate-changing pollution to be pumped into the atmosphere.

“Councillors must put local communities first, follow the example of Scotland and Wales and say no to dirty fracking.”

Yesterday, members of the North West Energy Task Force said rejecting the plans would send a message the county was not open for business and investment.

The coalition, which includes local businesses, academics, farmers and students, said it would be a missed opportunity to create jobs and boost the local economy.

Steve Pye, a former chairman of the Blackpool and Fylde and Wyre branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “As long as they (Cuadrilla) follow the rules and the guidelines, as long as it safe, it is a winner for Lancashire.”

Committee members will also meet on Thursday and Friday to rule on plans by Cuadrilla for a similar site at Roseacre Wood, Roseacre.

Planning officials recommended that application be turned down because of the increase in traffic which would result in ”an unacceptable impact” on rural roads and reduce road safety.

Published: Tuesday 23rd June 2015 by The News Editor

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