Legal advice delays fracking decision

25th June 2015

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Energy ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Water ,
  • Noise ,
  • Air


Aisling Webb

County councillors have deferred a decision on controversial plans to exploit shale gas reserves in Lancashire after legal advice cast doubt on their grounds for refusing permission.

The application by developer Cuadrilla sought permission for exploration and fracking of shale gas at its Preston New Road site in Fylde, Lancashire.

The application was recommended for refusal in January due to noise impacts, but the council agreed to allow Cuadrilla to submit further mitigation plans to reduce noise from a maximum of 42dB to 39dB. Planning officers subsequently recommended approval of the plans, subject to conditions on issues including noise, air quality and traffic.

Yesterday’s council meeting was watched closely by anti-fracking protesters, with many gathering outside to lobby. The council received 18,022 objections to Cuadrilla’s plans and 217 letters in support, according to the planners’ report. Many objections were against shale gas exploration in principle, but planners said that these views could not be supported by the council since national planning guidance states that shale gas is necessary to provide a diversity of energy supply. There were no objections from the Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive, the Highways Agency, while Natural England withdrew an earlier application after Cuadrilla submitted extra information on special protection areas and air quality.

The deputy chair of Lancashire county council’s planning committee, councillor Kevin Ellard, initially proposed a motion to refuse the application on several grounds, including that it is contrary to Fylde borough council’s local plan, which states that industrial development in the countryside should not be allowed unless required for agriculture, horticulture or forestry. The development would also damage the landscape, in particular, the extra fence that Cuadrilla has proposed to bring noise levels down, he added.

However, this motion was watered down to base a refusal solely on landscape grounds after councillors received advice from a barrister. Earlier, the council’s head of development management, Stuart Perigo, had warned councillors that their suggested grounds for refusal would not stand up to an appeal by Cuadrilla.

A vote to refuse the application split the council, with seven against and seven in favour. The chair’s casting vote was against refusal. However, councillors then debated the need to make the legal advice public, with several raising concerns that it had forced their hands, with councillors eventually voting to defer a final decision. The delay would enable the committee and the public to study the legal advice, they said.

The legal advice was published this morning. It states that refusing the application on landscape grounds would not stand up at a planning appeal since the council’s own landscape adviser had described the impact of the development as “moderate”.

“In the absence of clear evidence to gainsay the views of the various consultees and the case officer, there is a high risk that a costs penalty will be imposed upon the council,” the note from David Manley QC states.

A separate application by Cuadrilla for shale gas exploration at Roseacre Wood in Lancashire is being debated by the committee today. Planning officers recommended refusal due to the impact of lorry traffic on rural roads. Click here to watch the debate on live webcast.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Four in five shoppers willing to pay ‘sustainability premium’

Despite cost-of-living concerns, four-fifths of shoppers are willing to pay more for sustainably produced or sourced goods, a global survey has found.

16th May 2024

Read more

One in five UK food businesses are not prepared for EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) coming into force in December, a new survey has uncovered.

16th May 2024

Read more

Each person in the UK throws a shocking 35 items of unwanted clothes and textiles into general waste every year on average, according to a new report from WRAP.

2nd May 2024

Read more

The largest-ever research initiative of its kind has been launched this week to establish a benchmark for the private sector’s contribution to the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.

2nd May 2024

Read more

Weather-related damage to homes and businesses saw insurance claims hit a record high in the UK last year following a succession of storms.

18th April 2024

Read more

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has issued a statement clarifying that no changes have been made to its stance on offsetting scope 3 emissions following a backlash.

16th April 2024

Read more

One of the world’s most influential management thinkers, Andrew Winston sees many reasons for hope as pessimism looms large in sustainability. Huw Morris reports

4th April 2024

Read more

Vanessa Champion reveals how biophilic design can help you meet your environmental, social and governance goals

4th April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close