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Green light for fracking in Lancashire slammed

Secretary of State Sajid Javid, has decided that fracking should go ahead at Preston New Road, Lancashire, but has delayed making a decision on the Roseacre site to "give the Appellant and other parties the opportunity to provide any further evidence on highway safety and allow parties to make any representations on that before reaching a final decision on this appeal."

While the decision on Roseacre has not yet been made, the letter released from CLG this morning states that he "is minded to allow Appeal C and grant planning permission, subject to conditions".

Today’s decision has been slammed by local communities and Friends of the Earth.

In June 2015 Lancashire County Council voted against shale gas drilling following over 18,000 local objections. But, fracking company Cuadrilla appealed against the council’s decision. This has resulted in just one minister making the final decision on whether fracking is allowed at Preston New Road, and Roseacre Wood.

Pat Davies, Chair 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.

“Profit clearly comes before people. This decision will be scrutinised by many, not just the people of Lancashire and this travesty of justice will not be accepted. This is not the end. We will challenge this.”

Barbara Richardson of Roseacre Awareness Group said:

“If fracking goes ahead in Roseacre, it would devastate our community. We are allowed to make decisions over wind turbines or solar farms, which have far less impact, but not fracking.

“We are not scaremongers, just concerned residents.  These are totally inappropriate greenfield sites, situated in the very heart of rural Fylde, for an industry of this nature.

“So much for our government saying they want local people to have control over their own destiny. Even our own MP urged his own ministers to respect local decision makers.

“We will continue to work with our friends at Preston New Road, and other threatened communities, to stop fracking from happening. It has been a David and Goliath battle. Unfortunately we don't have the resources of Cuadrilla and the oil and gas industry.

“Fracking is not the solution. It is a backward step in energy policy. Ours is a small and densely populated country, unlike the wide open spaces of the US, which cannot support such an industry without devastating results. Be assured this is about money not people.”

Friends of the Earth north-west campaigner, Helen Rimmer, concluded:

“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 disappear 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.”

Friends of the Earth will be looking closely at this decision and we continue to support the community in their campaign to make sure all of Lancashire stays frack free. Only 19% of people support shale gas compared to 81% support for renewables.

Editor’s notes:

1.   Over 18,000 Lancashire residents objected to these fracking plans along with local Parish councils, the District and County Councils.
2.    DECC Public Attitudes Tracker – April 2016.
3.   Friends of the Earth report shows industry claims about job creation from fracking are overstated.
4. The decision was originally called in by Greg Clark, then DCLG minister, because of the national importance of the proposed application

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Published by Friends of the Earth Trust