Preston will see a further day of anti-fracking protests as the country awaits a decision on whether the controversial process is to be restarted.Advertisement
Councillors are meeting in County Hall to consider the second of Cuadrilla’s applications to frack in the countryside between Preston and Blackpool.
Roseacre Wood – the closer of the two sites to Preston – was refused by councillors on Thursday.
They said the plans to drill for shale gas at the site, near Inskip, were “unacceptable and potentially severe” in their impact on the road network.
County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, and member of the development control committee, said: “The development control committee has listened very carefully to many hours of evidence both for and against the proposal, and considered the report of the council’s planning officers.
“The decision to refuse this application has been reached by a vote of the committee, and each member of the committee has ultimately cast their vote based on the evidence they have heard and whether they think the proposal is acceptable.”
Hundreds of protestors have been outside County Hall since Monday 22 June as the development control committee meets for the lengthy, stormy and often legally complex sessions.
Tempers flared on Thursday when councillors attempted to discuss again the Preston New Road application despite it being deferred to Monday for a decision.
Legal advice published by the county council inferred any decision by the county councillors was “a waste of time” according to some councillors.
Councillors reconvene on Monday to discuss the Preston New Road application – which has been recommended for approval by planning officers.
A legal note published by David Manley QC outlines how if councillors were to object to the fracking plan they would be doing so on “unreasonable” planning grounds.
They would then likely face an appeal to the planning inspector from Cuadrilla.
And the lawyer for the county council warns “I anticipate it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a reputable independent planning consultant to defend LCC’s position. The reality, therefore, is that a member or members will have to give evidence.”
It’s all eyes on Preston, once more…
What’s your view on fracking? What should councillors do? Let us know in the comments below