Government gives green light at English fracking site

Environmentalists are against the move.  (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Environmentalists are against the move. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

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The Government has given the go-ahead for fracking at a site in Lancashire, overturning the county council’s decision on the scheme.

The controversial process can now go ahead at Preston New Road, Fylde, after Communities Secretary Sajid Javid gave the green light for shale company Cuadrilla to drill up to four wells.

But there is a reprieve for a second site in Lancashire, Roseacre Wood, which has not yet been given the green light amid concerns over impacts on the local area.
Following a public inquiry into the two schemes, the planning inspector recommended the Preston New Road scheme, originally supported by Lancashire County Council officials but turned down by the planning committee.

The inspector recommended that Cuadrilla’s appeal to be allowed to frack at Roseacre Wood be dismissed.

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But Mr Javid said he was giving Cuadrilla and other people further opportunity to address concerns about the site, and was “minded” to allow the appeal and grant planning permission if issues surrounding highway safety could be dealt with.

Environmentalists and local campaign groups reacted angrily to the decision, which they said went against the wishes of residents.

Pat Davies, chairwoman of Preston New Road Action Group, said: “This is a sad day as it is clear to all that this Government neither listens nor can it be trusted to do the right thing for local communities.

“It is deplorable that an industry that has been rejected on every level has inflicted itself on Preston New Road.

“Westby Parish Council, Fylde Borough Council and Lancashire County Council planning committee all said no to this application. These reasons were based on facts and knowledge, they rejected the site as unsuitable.

“Dismantling the democratic process to facilitate a dirty fossil fuel industry when only months ago the UK committed to climate change targets in Paris is another example of saying one thing and doing another.”

She vowed the group would challenge the decision.

Friends of the Earth North West campaigner Helen Rimmer said: “This is bad news for Lancashire - the community have been fighting fracking for more than five years. This fight continues until this unproven and unpopular industry disappears for good.

“Instead of shoving us down a dangerous path that inevitably leads to climate change, the Government should invest in renewables and energy efficiency, an emerging industry that could create 24,000 jobs in the North West alone.”

Greenpeace campaigner Hannah Martin said: “Theresa May cannot build a 21st century industrial strategy on a polluting and inexperienced fracking sector that won’t deliver for years, if ever.

“If the PM wants to promote an affordable and fair energy system whilst bolstering business growth and job creation, renewable and smart energy technologies are the way to go.”

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “The Communities Secretary has today allowed three planning appeals related to two proposed shale gas exploration and monitoring sites in Lancashire.

“The decisions follow extensive consideration of all the evidence, including an independent planning inspector’s report and evidence submitted during a two-week public inquiry.”

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