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Lancashire Council Likely To Lose Appeal If It Rejects Fracking

Alliance News

The embattled councillors with the responsibility of deciding whether or not the first fracking application in the UK since 2011 can be approved in Lancashire have said fracking is likely to go ahead even if they reject the application.

Cuadrilla Resources is at the forefront of the fracking argument in the UK after it submitted two applications to frack sites between Preston and Blackpool. Planning officers had recommended the Preston site be approved.

A hearing began on Tuesday for the Preston New Road site to decide whether or not Cuadrilla can drill, frack and test the flow of gas. Another permit would be needed to commence full fracking operations.

A separate application by Cuadrilla to frack at the second Roseacre site was unanimously rejected by councillors on Thursday, following recommendations that it should be refused on traffic grounds.

The vote held for the Preston New Road site to refuse Cuadrilla was defeated, although seven councillors voted in favour of the refusal and seven against it with one abstention, as the chairman Munsif Dad voted against the refusal with the casting vote.

The proceedings were then adjourned again, as the councillors had received legal advice in private that they then proposed to make public and the council deferred the decision until next Monday at 1000 BST after an agreement was not reached Wednesday.

On Friday, councillor David Manley released information about some of the legal advice he had received over the phone, which suggested Cuadrilla was likely to appeal if the council rejected the application, adding the council was likely to lose at the appeal stage.

The legal advice said an independent planning consultant would need to represent the council if the case reached the appeal stage.

It said if the “refusal is issued, the case officer cannot give evidence at any appeal”, adding that “it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a reputable independent planning consultant to defend Lancashire County Council’s position”.

That legal advice echoes the calls of several councillors and organisations that warned there were no grounds to reject the application.

Earlier this week, the North West Task Force, an “independent” organisation which looks at extracting natural gas in Lancashire said a rejection would send the message that the UK “was not open for business and investment”. Although the Force is independent, Cuadrilla is one of its members.

On Wednesday, Councillor Marcus Johnstone also said refusing the application would be irresponsible.

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