It is now four months since Lancashire County Council announced its shock decision to block two planning applications from Cuadrilla to carry out fracking in Lancashire. But the end is still not in sight. Appeals, judicial reviews and the governments current policy changes mean anti-fracking activists are having to continue their campaigning efforts.
And their latest efforts have just seen them take home a small victory. They have been granted a judicial review of the planning permission that allows Cuadrilla to carry out seismic monitoring at the Roseacre Wood site.
The Judicial Review
Anti-fracking activists started their appeal soon after the planning permission for over 80 seismic monitors at the Roseacre Wood Site was granted. They are concerned about how the planning permission could allow Cuadrilla to eventually start fracking at the Roseacre site, despite not having permission to do so.
On 13th July, they started a crowdfunding campaign that is hoping to raise £10,000 to cover the potential costs that could arise if they were to lose their appeal. So far the campaign has raised £7,185 from 326 supporters.
Then, last week, it was announced that the High Court would grant the campaigners a judicial review of the council’s decision.
Reacting to the news, Pam Foster from Residents Action on Fylde Fracking said, “We feel that this is a real achievement and we are delighted that this is going ahead.”
She added, “Who knows what the result will be, but we believe that we have a fighting chance at the next stage.”
Unsurprisingly, Cuadrilla was less happy with the decision. A spokesperson for the company said, “We are surprised, particularly, as a previous written application was refused.”
However, they contined: “As with our own ongoing appeals against the refusal of our shale gas exploration planning applications in Lancashire, a judicial review is part of the democratic process allowed to challenge planning decisions which we fully respect.”
The Fracking War Continues …
While the local activists may have won this important battle, the fracking war in Lancashire is far from over.
Cuadrilla is also appealing the decision to deny them the opportunity to carry out fracking in the county.
Cuadrilla has also confirmed that it will be moving its headquarters to Bamber Bridge, just outside of Preston in Lancashire, early next year. This is a move that shows their determination and confidence that, with the government on their side, they will eventually get the result they want.
A date for the decision, as to whether Cuadrilla will also be granted a review of the council’s decision to stop fracking, is yet to be announced but is thought to be around February next year.
At the time they announced their appeal, CEO Francis Egan said, “I understand that some people would prefer that we did not appeal but I am confident that we will demonstrate to Lancashire and the UK that shale gas exploration and fracking is not only safe but represents a very real opportunity to create jobs, fuel businesses, heat UK homes and stimulate significant local economic growth.”
Meanwhile anti-fracking activists are quietly working away, planning and plotting about how they are going to create more David vs Goliath victories.
But for now, the future of fracking remains far from certain.