UK fracking decision deferred

25 July 2015, News Wires – Councillors in a UK local government have postponed until Monday a vote on a hydraulic fracturing proposal made by explorer Cuadrilla Resources.

The Lancashire County councillors initially asked for an adjournment on Wednesday, as they were due to officially announce their decision, “so they can get private advice from legal officers”.

Following a debate between councillors, it was announced that the fracking application has been deferred until Monday 29 June.

Cuadrilla is seeking planning permission to carry out drilling and fracking at two sites in the county, after planning officials recommended last week that the proposal for one site, at Preston New Road, be approved, although another, at Roseacrea Wodd, be rejected due to traffic concerns.

About 70 speakers – both for and against the Preston New Road proposal – argued their case before the 15 members of the council’s development control committee, with opponents of the plans going first.

After today’s session, local councillors will be moving on to consider Cuadrilla’s second fracking proposal on the Roseacre Wood, which could take another two days, with about 55 speakers lined up.

However, planning officials recommended that this application be turned down because of the increase in traffic which would result in ”an unacceptable impact” on rural roads and reduce road safety.

Councillors are under pressure to make a decision that, either way, will be critical for the development of shale gas in the UK, as some other western European countries have resisted fracking, with both France and Germany citing environmental concerns.

Meanwhile, an approval could be a major breakthrough for the UK government that has hopes of a shale gas industry in the UK, as the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) said earlier in the year that it “believes that it (shale gas) has the potential to provide the UK with greater energy security, growth and jobs”.

“The decisions in Lancashire come at a critical time for shale gas development in the UK with a moratorium on fracking in place in Scotland, efforts in Wales to implement a similar moratorium, calls from some councillors in Lancashire for devolution of shale gas licensing from Westminster to Lancashire, and a decision – albeit symbolic – of the European Parliament to impose a moratorium on fracking across the EU,” London-based partner in the energy & technology focused international law firm Baker Botts Hamish McArdle said.

Ahead of the vote, environmental activists continued to protest outside the council’s offices in Preston, pointing to the potentially damaging impacts on water supply and air quality.

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