NEWS
15/06/2015 10:55 BST | Updated 15/06/2016 06:12 BST

Fracking Given Planners' Go-Ahead

Proposals for fracking for shale gas at a site in Lancashire should be approved, planning officers have recommended.

Lancashire County Council has published reports with recommendations on planning applications from shale company Cuadrilla to develop two new sites between Preston and Blackpool to explore for shale gas by drilling, fracking and testing the flow of gas.

The report recommended that the application for a site at Preston New Road near Little Plumpton be passed, subject to a lengthy number of conditions being met, said the council.

But planning officials recommended an application for a similar site at Roseacre Wood should be turned down because of an increase in traffic.

The council's development control committee is due to make decisions on the planning applicationsnext week.

Cuadrilla submitted revised plans after planning officers recommended refusal for both sites in January for different reasons.

Planning officers had previously said the site at Preston New Road should be turned down because of concerns over noise impacts which would ''unnecessarily and unacceptably'' affect neighbouring properties.

But now they have recommended its approval if a number of conditions are met, including controlling time limits, hours of working, control of noise and highway matters.

At the Roseacre Wood site, planning officers maintained their stance that there would be an increase in traffic, particularly heavy goods vehicles, which would result in ''an unacceptable impact'' on rural roads and reduce road safety.

The Government is pushing for the development of a shale gas industry in the UK, claiming it would create jobs and growth, reduce energy prices and cut the country's reliance on gas imports.

Opponents have raised fears that the process causes earthquakes, can pollute water supplies, and could lead to inappropriate development in the countryside and damage house prices.

Hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - involves pumping water, chemicals and sand at high pressure underground to fracture shale rock and release the gas trapped in it.

Furqan Naeem, from Friends of the Earth, said: "We are disappointed that planning officers have not recognised the unacceptable impact that Cuadrilla's plans to frack at Preston New Road would have on local people, climate change and the environment.

“The council must now listen to the tens of thousands of people who have objected to fracking at both sites, and the strong evidence put before them, and reject both of Cuadrilla's proposals to frack. 

“Fracking has already been halted in Scotland and Wales because of the serious risks it poses to the environment and health, and impacts on climate change - two-thirds of people in Lancashire want it halted too. 

“Rejecting Cuadrilla's plans is the only way to stop Lancashire's communities and environment being made the UK's guinea pig for risky and polluting fracking.”