The future of fracking in Lancashire has been thrown into doubt after planning officers announced they are set to reject planning permission for two sites.
A county council report has been produced today ahead of a decision by councillors next week on plans by Cuadrilla to extract shale gas at sites near Blackpool.
Planning officers have recommended refusal to drilling at the sites, citing concerns over increased traffic and noise.
Friends of the Earth’s North West campaigner Helen Rimmer said: “We are delighted that the planning officers have recognised the serious effects that these developments would have on neighbouring residents and have recommended that Lancashire County Council refuses these applications.
“Councillors must now act on this and the tens of thousands of objections they have received and reject Cuadrilla’s fracking applications next week.“Only by doing so will they ensure that fracking is not allowed to cause further climate change while also putting communities and the local environment at risk.”
It comes as a 267,000-strong petition urging the Prime Minister to reconsider his ‘all-out’ support for fracking was handed in to Downing Street today ahead of a crunch week for the government’s push on shale.
The Infrastructure Bill will provide a £3.9 billion boost to the economy over the next ten years according to the government. If passed the Bill would maximise the recovery of oil and gas from the UK continental shelf, and simplify underground access procedures for the shale and geothermal energy industries.
The Bill will have its report stage and final reading in the House of Commons on Monday, January 26, when all MPs will be able to propose and vote for amendments to the Bill.
A Cuadrilla spokesman said: “We are very disappointed that Lancashire County Council’s Planning Officers have recommended that the council’s Development Control Committee refuse planning consent for both our applications. Officers have recommended refusal at Preston New Road only on grounds of night-time noise and at Roseacre Wood on noise and traffic concerns.
"We note that the Planning Officer’s report has accepted the principle of our proposals and is satisfied with all other aspects of the planning applications and in particular their conclusion that properly regulated hydraulic fracturing is ‘very low risk’. We believe that the limited grounds on which the officers have recommended refusal can be satisfactorily resolved.
"Our applications are to drill, hydraulically fracture and test the flow of gas from up to four exploration wells at each of our proposed sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.
“In the end the councillors on the Development Control Committee will have to weigh the relatively minor impacts which affect only a small number of households and for which we have proposed adequate proposals for mitigation against the wider local and national, jobs, growth and economic as well as energy security opportunities. We will await the councillors’ decisions on both these applications and we believe that all of the limited issues that have been raised can be resolved.”