Javid decision gives green light to fracking

2nd November 2016


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Juilan Sowah

Communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid has overturned Lancashire County Council's refusal to grant Cuadrilla permission to extract onshore gas from a site near Preston.

Communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid has overturned Lancashire County Council’s refusal to grant Cuadrilla permission to extract onshore gas from a site near Preston.

Javid agreed with the conclusions of the planning inspector, Wendy McKay, that three of the four appeals by Cuadrilla should be allowed and planning permission granted, subject to conditions. Two of the successful appeals relate to plans by the company for a site off Preston New Road. The other relates to the time constraints imposed by the council on activity on a site at nearby Roseacre Wood. A second appeal for Roseacre was dismissed, although Javid said he was minded to grant permission if concerns about highway safety were addressed.

In a letter outlining the reasons for agreeing the appeals, the secretary said he was satisfied that the environmental statements for the Preston New Road site were adequate and met the minimum requirements of Sch 4, Pt 2 of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011.

Javid also examined the inspector’s assessment of matters covered by the Habitats Regulations, agreeing with her conclusion that the proposed developments would not have significant effects on two special conservation areas nearby, either alone or in combination. ‘Like the inspector, [the secretary] is satisfied that the necessary mitigation measures have been identified and can be secured by planning conditions and those measures would operate effectively,’ states the letter.

It says Javid further considered what impact extracting and burning shale gas would have on climate change, concluding that it was a matter for future national policy and not for the appeals. He decided the projects were consistent with the aim of the national planning policy framework to support the transition to a low-carbon future in a changing climate.

Former Dclg secretary Greg Clark had called in the planning applications in November 2015, appointing McKay in January 2016 to carry out an inquiry. The reason given for the direction was because two appeals involved proposals for exploring and developing shale gas, which Clark said were developments of major importance that had more than local significance. For reasons of efficiency, the two other appeals, which relate to monitoring shale gas sites, were considered at the same time.

Councillors rejected Cuadrilla’s planning application to drill, fracture and flow test four shale gas wells at Preston New Road in June 2015 on the grounds of noise and visual impact. The council’s planning officers had recommended approval. They refused the proposal for Roseacre in line with the advice of planning officers, which centred mainly on local traffic issues.

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