Plans by Cuadrilla for excavating shale gas in Lancashire via the controversial method of fracking have been rejected by local authorities in a major setback for the UK's shale gas industry.
The energy firm has been denied permission to frack at Preston New Road by Lancashire County Council, which last week made a similar decision on a second site in the area, Roseacre Wood.
The plans for the site had been recommended for approval, but a final decision by councillors rejected the bid this morning. It would have been the UK's first fracking operations in four years.
A decision on the site, located between Preston and Blackpool, had been expected last week but councillors delayed it in order to hear further legal opinions on Cuadrilla's plans, which have faced huge local and national opposition.
Cuadrilla said it was "surprised and disappointed" by the decision and will consider its options.
We will now take time to consider our options regarding an appeal for Preston New Road, along with also considering appeals for the planning applications recently turned down, against officer advice, for monitoring and site restoration at Grange Hill, and last week’s decision to refuse the Roseacre Wood application.
It is over a year since the application was submitted to the council and the committee’s decision comes after planning officer’s scrupulously went through the rigorous, 4,000 page environmental Statement that accompanied our application and conducted widespread public consultation, which led to their positive recommendation.
We completed the most comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessments ever carried out for operations of this kind. These assessments are the product of thousands of hours of work from independent expert environmental scientists and other engineering specialists and they demonstrate beyond question that the operations can and will be conducted safely and without damage to people’s health or their environment.
The UK and the EU has a strict regulatory framework for governing oil and gas exploration and production and we have had to secure many permissions and permits before work can start.
If we can unlock this shale gas potential it will help create jobs, generate economic growth, help fuel and heat local businesses and homes and boost local tax revenues for Lancashire. It is regrettable that the County Council has decided not to support this application in the face of positive recommendation from all regulators and their own officers.”
The move was welcomed by environmental campaigners.