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Lancashire fracking bid backed by council officers

A new report from Lancashire County Council’s planning officers has recommended fracking at one of two sites on the Flyde coast.

The report was in response to applications from energy company Cuadrilla to extract shale gas at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.

The planning officers recommended that the council’s development control committee should approve fracking at the Preston New Road site, but advised refusal of the application at Roseacre Wood.

A final decision on both applications will be made by councillors next week. If approved, the sites will be closely monitored by both the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive.

Earlier this year both of Cuadrilla’s initial applications for the sites received negative recommendations from planning officers.

In a statement, Cuadrilla said: “In January 2015, officers recommended refusal at Preston New Road only on grounds of night-time noise and we duly submitted additional information on mitigation measures, which was publicly consulted on, to further bring down noise levels well below limits set out in government guidance.

“We note that, as in January, the planning officer’s report is satisfied with all other aspects of the planning applications, in particular with regard to drilling and fracking.”

The company added: “For our application at Roseacre Wood we supplied additional information regarding traffic routes which we and our expert advisers believe addressed issues which were raised in the officer’s report in January.

“We are disappointed that officers do not support this in their negative recommendation today, however we are pleased to note that as with Preston New Road, they are satisfied with all other aspects of the Roseacre Wood planning applications.”

Commenting on the report’s recommendations, Jenifer Baxter, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “The fact that thousands of objections have been lodged about the plans shows that there is a lot more work that needs to be done by engineering institutions, oil and gas companies and experts in the subject to convince the public that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of rock for shale gas extraction is safe.

“If local authorities and communities are to make informed decisions on whether to allow fracking to take place in their locality, they need to understand all the issues and have an opportunity to discuss them sensibly.”

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