‘Please save our villages’

Residents and neighbours of Roseacre village gather to protest against fracking in the area
Residents and neighbours of Roseacre village gather to protest against fracking in the area

Fylde villagers have made an impassioned plea to county councillors to reject bids to frack close to their homes.

The residents of Little Plumpton and Roseacre say they do not want their neighbourhoods changed forever by being the centre for the onshore shale gas industry in this country.

They say the rural nature of the Fylde is under threat along with the peace and quiet, the environment of the Fylde fields and farming and tourism in the area.

Last week, there was joy as a report by Lancashire County Council’s planning officers recommended refusing permission for two bids by Cuadrilla Resources to drill and test for shale gas on farm fields in the rural Fylde hamlets.

County Hall officers cited noise issues at both sites and potential traffic problems at Roseacre.

The council’s Development Control Committee was due to meet today to consider the applications.

But first it must decide on whether to defer the hearing following Cuadrilla’s submission of revised measures to deal with excess noise and traffic.

Cuadrilla said the deferral would allow further consultation.

A spokesman for the gas company said: “We hope Lancashire County Council agrees to our request to defer the determination of our planning applications.

“Lessening any potential impact of our proposed 
operations on local residents is important to us.

“We are hopeful that the additional information we have provided on further mitigation measures on noise and traffic concerns will resolve the concerns raised by the Planning Officers and believe that proper consultation on these initiatives is important.

“We remain committed to the responsible exploration of shale gas in Lancashire which we are confident will bring jobs and investment to the local economy.”

But Barbara Richardson, chairman of the Roseacre Awareness Group, said people in Roseacre and Wharles were anxious about the outcome of a meeting which could change their lives forever.

She said: “We just hope the councillors vote with their conscience and reject the applications and not be swayed by the pressure of central government.

“We are just ordinary people, working people with not much money to fight our cause. It is not just for our community either. If Cuadrilla get a foothold here then anywhere in Lancashire could see this happening to them.

“There is tremendous anxiety and stress in the two hamlets. I wake up every morning and look out of the window at the countryside and I love this place. It breaks my heart to think it could all change. It makes me feel like crying and I am not the only one.

“All the talk is about money it could bring in and the jobs but no one talks about the hidden costs.

“What about jobs lost in tourism and agriculture, the extra maintenance for the roads due to the HGVs, the public health issues, the cost if there’s a serious incident and the cost of putting things right afterwards.

“If it were down to common sense rather than big business and government pressure it would never happen.”

The county council has received in excess of 30,000 objections to the plans.

Elizabeth Warner, vice chairman of the Roseacre group, said: “Without doubt if the planning permission is granted to frack here at Roseacre it will mean they will be able to frack anywhere.

“It will change the whole nature of rural Fylde.

“They say they can mitigate the noise and the traffic but we don’t think they can.

Forced

“It will mean industry will be forced on us where there was no industry before. This is farming land and recreation land. We don’t want that to change

“There is no safe road route to Roseacre. 200 people live within 1,000 metres of the proposed site, there is no industrialisation, no pollution, no noise. In planning terms Cuadrilla is trying to make the unworkable workable to set a precedent.

“There not a lot of green land in our country and this will mean they can frack anywhere.”

Pat Davies chairman of the Preston New Road Action Group said the entire community around the proposed drilling site was anxious and having sleepless nights.

She said: “The whole community here is appealing for the councillors to help us retain the kind of community we have built up over generations here in the Fylde for the generations to come.

“We rely on tourism, farming and agriculture and we don’t want to see all that destroyed if the county council agree to these planning applications.

“We think 53m High drilling rigs and methane gas flare stacks do not mix with tourism. People come here because of the clean air and beautiful countryside.

“You would not go on holiday in an industrial zone.

“This is an untried and untested industry despite the claims of a boost to the economy and jobs.

“We’re hoping councillors do what they’re supposed to do and stand up for the local people and not bow to the pressure of Government and big business.”

Business chiefs, last week, claimed the county could be turning its back on a potential jobs goldmine by not allowing fracking to go ahead.

And Cuadrilla is confident it “will resolve” the issues which led to its plans being listed for refusal.

But these arguments have not swayed many local residents who agree with campaigners who argue potential environmental impacts, water pollution and threat of earth tremors from fracking – together with the industrialisation of rural areas – are very real .

Mrs Davies added: “What has happened in Government this week has been a disgrace – (Chancellor) George Osborne’s letter attempting to push through fracking and the rejection of the moratorium called for by many MPs. They are not reflecting the views of ordinary people.

“It is not just nimbyism. This could happen anywhere in Lancashire.

“Cuadrilla have had long enough to put their case.

Last year they said they could not do any more to reduce noise at the drilling sites, yet, as soon as the planning officers report came out they came back and submitted a new plan and want a deferral.

“They have moved the goalposts. We are ordinary people and don’t have the limitless funds big companies in the oil industry have. It’s David and Goliath.

“We have spent money getting in expert help to put our case and now they want it all called off. It is not fair.

“The oldest member of our group is 94.

“This has been a terrible strain on us all. I don’t think any of us will be sleeping ahead of this decision. We are just appealing for the councillors to let us live in peace and not turn Fylde into an industrial zone.”