Clark to have final say over Lancashire fracking applications

The Communities Secretary, Greg Clark, will now have the final say over two controversial fracking applications in Lancashire.

The Department for Communities and Local Government confirmed yesterday (27 November) that ministers have decided to recover the appeals by energy company Cuadrilla for two applications in Lancashire.

Cuadrilla has announced it would appeal against Lancashire County Council’s decision to refuse two applications to explore for shale gas in July.

In the summer, members of the County Council's Development Control Committee voted last month to refuse an application to explore for shale gas at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton on the grounds of noise and visual impact. 

A second application to explore for shale gas at Roseacre Wood was refused because the proposal would have an unacceptable and potentially severe impact on the road network.

“Ministers have decided to recover Cuadrilla’s appeals for shale exploration in Lancashire,” said a DCLG spokesman. 

“They consider these proposals are of more than local significance and raise important issues of planning development control.” 

But the leader of Lancashire County Council, Cllr Jennifer Mein, said she was “extremely disappointed” at the Government’s decision.

"The county council went to great lengths to thoroughly consider these applications and councillors made their decisions based on a huge amount of evidence both for and against each application,” said Cllr Mein.

"When the appeals were lodged it already meant that the decisions would be taken out of the hands out of elected representatives here in Lancashire. 

"The difference now is that, rather than being determined by an impartial planning inspector, they will be determined by a minister in a Government which has already made its views on shale gas very clear,” added the council leader.

Labour’s Shadow Energy Secretary, Lisa Nandy, added: “The Government has completely failed to win public support for these drilling projects, which is not surprising as they abandoned important environmental safeguards. By seeking to impose fracking public concern is only likely to deepen."

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues