Lancashire anti-fracking campaigners are concerned that fracking could still go ahead in Lancashire because the County Council approved a part of Cuadrilla’s two planning applications.
Cuadrilla was famously denied permission to carry out any fracking in Preston in June this year. They have since announced that they are going to appeal the council’s decision.
However, while activists are working to fight Cuadrilla’s appeal, they have also started their own crowdfunding campaign for a review of the planning permission Cuadrilla was granted at the Roseacre Wood site, for over 90 seismic monitors.
An extract from their crowdfunding page claims: “The decision for the main drilling site was refused on the recommendation of the Planning Officer. Without the main drilling site there is no logic in the permission for the ‘seismic arrays’. If this decision isn’t overturned it is possible that Cuadrilla could apply for change of use at a future date and use these fields for fracking pads.”
Local campaigners are worried that a mix of the government’s renewed drive to fast-track fracking applications and the change in the definitions of fracking that happened under the Infrastructure Act passed in February, will create the necessary conditions that could allow Cuadrilla to eventually start fracking at the Roseacre site, despite not having permission to do so.
Bob Dennett, co-founder of Frack Free Lancashire who started the crowdfunding campaign, said: “That makes it very dangerous for the area around Roseacre where those monitoring stations will be located.”
However the council have said that under the current planning framework Cuadrilla would not be able to circumvent the council’s decision that denied them permission to frack for shale gas.
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “In order for the site of the monitoring array to be developed for anything other than is covered by the existing permission, full planning permission would be needed requiring a new and separate application. An application for shale gas development would need an Environmental Impact Assessment, and would have to be considered on its merits irrespective of the planning history of the site.”
Cuadrilla has made no attempts to carry out any drilling or fracking at the Roseacre Wood site as it stands.
The crowdfunding campaign, which started on 13 July, is hoping to raise £10,000 to cover the potential costs that could arise if they lost their appeal. So far the campaign has raised £6,833 from 311 supporters.
Meanwhile, the government has announced the winners of the latest round of drilling licenses in designated exploration blocks at 27 locations across England.
So far, 12 companies, including Cuadrilla, Ineos and IGas, have been granted permission to explore for onshore oil and gas, including fracking, in these blocks. However, exploration can only go ahead subject to local planning consent.
Photo: Victoria Buchan-Dyer via Flickr