Fresh delay for rural Fylde’s fracking D-Day

A map showing the location of the two proposed fracking test sites on the Fylde
A map showing the location of the two proposed fracking test sites on the Fylde

Fylde residents today spoke of their prolonged agony after decisions on bids to frack at two sites were again delayed.

Lancashire County Council has announced that its development control committee will now not meet until the end of June to rule on applications by energy firm Cuadrilla to drill and test frack for gas at Roseacre and off Preston New Road.

The council said it had agreed with Cuadrilla to extend the time period to make decisions.

This was to give it more time to consider new submissions from protesters, review the feedback from the consultation period, and the details supplied by Cuadrilla, before preparing reports for a further meeting of the committee.

It will be the third delay in the hearings which were due to be held in December and then January.

Cuadrilla requested an extension after planning officers recommended refusal of the two schemes on noise and traffic grounds. The end of April was mooted for a decision and a further consultation period began on March 20.

However, residents today said silence from County Hall, with a week to go before the hearing was due, led them to suspect it would be delayed until after the election.

Barbara Richardson from the Roseacre Awareness Group (pictured) said: “I am not surprised by this. We and other organisations had new submissions from a specialist acoustics consultant and there is the traffic issue. There was a lot to consider.

“But this prolonges the agony for the residents. People in the areas affected are having to live with a lot of anxiety.”

A spokesman from the Preston New Road anti-fracking group said: “The Preston New Road Community Group is bitterly disappointed that there is to be a further delay with this application.

“The County Council has had sufficient reasons for refusal of the application, from the Fylde Borough Council on policy grounds, and from the local community on many other grounds related to the high risk of fracking in the Fylde.

“The Council has at every turn given the applicants further opportunity to revise their application. It will never become acceptable. Enough is enough. We appeal to the County Council to protect residents’ interests and refuse the application now.”

A council spokesman said: “Lancashire County Council has agreed with Cuadrilla to extend the time period to make decisions on planning applications for shale gas development at two new sites to June 30 June.

“The extension follows a request by Cuadrilla to consider additional information about the applications. Cuadrilla’s request resulted in the deferral of a meeting of the Development Control Committee in January 2015 at which councillors had been due to make a decision on each application.

“The council will announce dates for the applications to be determined in due course.”

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said: “We have accepted the request from Lancashire County Council regarding the extension until June 30 of the determination of our planning applications for shale gas exploration at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.

“We understand this extra time will ensure that proper consideration is given to the public consultation undertaken by the Council on the additional information we provided, as requested by the Planning Officers, regarding further mitigation measures to fully address the noise and traffic concerns they had raised.”