Planning chiefs recommend Cuadrilla plans refusal

The people with the most unenviable job in minerals and waste planning right now have today recommended that Lancashire County Council refuse Cuadrilla Resources’ plans for test drilling at Little Plumpton and Roseacre Wood.


The council’s planning officers have been busy assessing Cuadrilla’s very detailed planning applications for Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, and Roseacre Wood since last summer.

The applications would allow Cuadrilla to drill, hydraulically fracture and test the flow of gas from up to four exploration wells at each location.

In recommending that temporary planning permission be refused  at the two sites, planning chiefs said noise and traffic impacts would have been unacceptable.

But the news has given the industry another vote of confidence, just days after the Environment Agency granted a series of environmental permits for the Preston New Road site.  It sends a clear message that concerns about water, air and soil pollution, and associated health fears, are unwarranted.

The decision will no doubt serve as a disappointment to Cuadrilla and its partners.

Next week, the plans will be considered by Lancashire County Council’s development control committee over two days.  The committee is not obliged to accept the recommendations of its planning officers.

Reacting to the news, OESG chief executive and Lancashire businessman, Lee Petts, said: “Today’s announcement is a disappointing set back.  But it shows that shale gas exploration can be undertaken safely and responsibly in the right locations, whilst being sensitive to people’s concerns, and that the main concerns for planners were no different to those associated with other construction and civil engineering projects.

“I’m sure that the hundreds of businesses that registered with the new online supply chain portal last week, seeking potential contracting opportunities, will be especially disappointed given that shale gas and other forms of energy extraction have the potential to create jobs and boost investment.

“We need to wait and see now what the development control committee decides when it meets next week to consider the plans.”

If further exploration does proceed, local communities stand to benefit from a share of £100,000 per well that is hydraulically fractured which could therefore total £400,000 at each of the two sites.

Beyond this, there’s an opportunity for local Lancashire businesses to provide goods and services in the supporting supply chain.  The OESG is campaigning to ensure that SMEs are prioritised for supply contracts, believing that smaller companies will not only create more jobs but will also contribute more to the Exchequer in taxes that can be spent elsewhere in the economy.