Lancashire County Council’s development control committee this morning refused planning permission for Cuadrilla to frack at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.
North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Babs Murphy said: “Although it is disappointing that councillors have gone against the recommendation of planning officers, we hope this is not the death knell for this industry in Lancashire.
“In turning down this proposal, councillors appear to have ruled with their hearts, rather than their heads, and ignored the reasoned arguments of those with genuine expertise in this industry.
“Our hope is that this decision will be appealed and that the appeal will be successful, otherwise what is certain is that fracking will go ahead elsewhere in the UK and Lancashire will miss out on thousands of jobs and massive economic benefits.”
In a statement, a spokesman for the North West Energy Task Force, said: “On Monday, the Development Control Committee (DCC) went against Lancashire County Council’s legal advice and rejected the application to explore, test, and hydraulically fracture at Preston New Road. The grounds given were on noise and visual impact.
“The news is particularly disappointing as councillors chose to reject the recommendations of their own planning and legal officers that the application be approved.
“Councillors were permitted to accept for consideration unsolicited legal advice supplied by Friends of the Earth and a resident group over the weekend, but corresponding advice supplied by UKOOG (the representative body of the onshore oil and gas industry) was not taken into account.
“Following last week’s decision to refuse Roseacre Wood planning application, yesterday’s decision increases the possibility that Lancashire may miss out on becoming a European hub for the shale gas industry. Approval of the applications would have given Lancashire a major strategic advantage over the rest of the UK and ensured it secured the maximum benefit locally from the area’s shale reserves.
“Given the technical strength of these planning applications and the weak grounds cited for refusal it is likely that an appeal or appeals will be made to the Planning Inspectorate. The NWETF is assessing next steps and will keep you updated.
“The NWETF is committed to making the case that the responsible development and extraction of Lancashire’s shale gas reserves will benefit the region by creating jobs, generating economic growth, and boosting local revenues.
Over the last few weeks our supporters have been active in making the case for Lancashire shale and have made a major contribution to ensuring balanced media coverage and overcoming some false narratives.
“Finally, the NWETF would like to thank all our supporters for their help and support over the DCC period. While we are disappointed by the decision the NWETF is very grateful to all our supporters for ensuring that the case for Lancashire shale was successfully made. Despite the setbacks experienced over the last week, our work goes on.”