Cuadrilla wins extra time on shale gas application
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A decision on whether shale gas operations in Lancashire will go ahead has been deferred to allow further public consultation after the company behind the plans, Cuadrilla, submitted extra information.
The planning committee of Lancashire County Council was due to decide applications for shale gas operations at two sites this week. Its planning officers recommended both for refusal, on the grounds of noise and traffic.
But Cuadrilla says it will put extra noise mitigation measures in place, including another sound barrier around the major parts of the drilling rig, and additional shielding around individual components.
This will reduce night-time noise at the nearest residential property to the proposed Preston New Road site to no higher than 39dB, it said. Its original planning application contained measures that would prevent noise levels above 42dB, which is the level typically set by county councils for night-time drilling, it claimed.
At a second site, Roseacre Wood site, Cuadrilla is proposing to install additional noise mitigation measures to keep noise levels to a maximum of 37dB. In addition, all HGV traffic related to its operations at the site would be routed through an RAF base, to avoid local villages, it said.
A spokesperson for Cuadrilla said: “The additional information we have provided on further mitigation measures will, we believe, full address the noise and traffic concerns raise by the planning officers. We remain committed to the exploration of shale gas in Lancashire.”
Munsif Dad, chair of the planning committee at Lancashire County Council, said that it had received legal advice that supported deferring a decision to allow consultation on the new information provided by Cuadrilla.
Meanwhile, the Scottish energy minister, Fergus Ewing, has announced a moratorium on granting planning consents for unconventional oil and gas developments in Scotland while further research and a public consultation is carried out.
Ewing wrote to the UK energy secretary Ed Davey last week to request that the government issues no further licenses in Scotland as powers for onshore oil and gas licensing are due to be devolved to Scottish ministers.
Ewing said: “This moratorium will continue until such time as the work I have set out to parliament today, including a full public consultation, is completed.
“We should never close our minds to the potential opportunities of new technologies – but we must also ensure that community, environmental and health concerns are never simply brushed aside.”.
Trade body UKOOG welcomed the announcement. Chief executive Ken Cronin said: “We recognise that the general public have concerns about the issues around fracking and welcome this opportunity to present the facts to the Scottish people.”
Many independent reports, including one set up by the Scottish government, have concluded that the regulatory process for onshore oil and gas is robust, he added.
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