THE UK’S nascent shale gas industry suffered a shock setback yesterday, when Lancashire council rejected Cuadrilla’s application to frack at a site in the county, despite planning officers giving it the green light.
Energy firm Cuadrilla was planning to explore for shale gas at the Preston New Road site by using the controversial fracking technique to drill up to four wells, which critics claim causes earth tremors and water pollution.
Lancashire council planning officers had recommended on 15 June that the council should approve the application, but nine out of 14 councillors rejected it yesterday on the grounds of impact to landscape and noise.
Supporters of shale, including the government, say it will boost the economy and help ensure domestic energy security. Robbie Owen at Pinsent Masons called the decision “a considerable setback” for the industry as it would deter investors, while the British Chambers of Commerce said it was “perverse, short-sighted and timid”.
Cuadrilla said it was “surprised and disappointed” with the decision and that it is now considering whether to launch an appeal.
Energy minister Andrea Leadsom said the decision was “disappointing” but she was still confident shale gas’ potential would be realised in the UK.
“This is purely a planning decision on this specific site and is not based on whether the council is for or against fracking,” councillor Marcus Johnstone told City A.M..