Fracking is to continue near Preston as the latest appeal against it was lost.Advertisement
Anti-fracking campaigners took their case to the Court of Appeal to try to overrule a decision made by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Sajid Javid MP granted planning permission to Cuadrilla in October 2016 for permission to drill for shale gas at a site in Preston New Road, near Preston.
The firm had been rejected by Lancashire County Council for activity at the site but the government stepped in to overrule the decision.
Cuadrilla has begun work at Preston New Road and completed a vertical pilot well drill to a depth of 2.7km this week.
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A spokeswoman for the Preston New Road Action Group said: “We are deeply disappointed at the decision made by Lord Justice Simon, Lord Justice Lindblom and Lord Justice Henderson, following our appeal at the High Court in August last year.
“Our community has been marginalised and dismissed in favour of a decision made in the depths of Westminster.
“Over 100,000 people objected to this fracking application. In addition, our parish council, Fylde Borough Council and Lancashire County Council rejected the application. They had a duty of care to local residents and they fulfilled that duty. They determined that the risks of this industry far outweighed any benefits to the local community.
“By overruling Lancashire County Council, this decision only benefits big business. The last three years of this fracking challenge process has damaged democracy and trust in politicians, leaving our community feeling vulnerable and unrepresented.
“We will now take time to scrutinise the decision documents and liaise with our legal team. Our end goal has not changed: we are still intent on achieving justice for the Preston New Road community and beyond.”
A solicitor at Leigh Day who represented the group Rowan Smith said: “On behalf of the whole community in Lancashire, we are obviously bitterly disappointed by the Court of Appeal’s judgment. Clearly, our clients were right to take the legal battle this far, not least because the local council originally refused planning permission and the fracking industry’s chances were only saved by central government intervention.
“Our clients are in the process of considering whether to appeal.
“Meanwhile, with Ireland and Scotland having already banned fracking, surely it is time for the Westminster government to review its out-of-step ringing endorsement of fracking. All of this comes in the light of calls for fracking in the UK to be suspended, if we are to have any hope of meeting our Paris Agreement targets.
“Evidence now shows renewable energy is a cheaper alternative to dirty fossil fuels, such as shale gas, so the economics as well as the political and legal arguments all stack up against fracking being the answer to the domestic energy crisis.”
Read more: Viewing area added to Preston New Road fracking site
A Lancashire For Shale spokesperson said: “We are very pleased with the decision of the Court of Appeal. It means that Cuadrilla can continue its operations, which have already ploughed around £5 million into the local economy in just a year.
“However, it’s not just potential suppliers that stand to benefit from a successful shale gas industry here.
“One way or another, Lancashire’s 52,000-strong business community relies on a secure and affordable supply of gas, but most of that gas is currently imported. As the unexpected outages in December showed, our dependency on gas from overseas leaves businesses vulnerable to supply shortages and price spikes.
“It’s vital that we get on with securing more of our own, affordable gas, and Cuadrilla’s work in Lancashire is an important first step in doing just that.”
The news comes on the same day in which Cuadrilla announced ‘very encouraging’ results from its early drilling activities, having now been able to collect and test around 375 rock samples from the Upper and Lower Bowland shale.
What do you think about fracking near Preston? What do you think of the Court of Appeal’s decision? Let us know in the comments below