Green light for fracking will set ‘dangerous precedent’

The site in Lancashire  where fracking has been approved
The site in Lancashire where fracking has been approved

The decision to over-rule a council’s rejection and allow fracking in Lancashire could set a “dangerous precedent” for Wigan.

The borough is covered by energy licences allowing exclusive rights to firms for shale gas exploration which would be subject to planning approval.

But the government yesterday over-ruled Lancashire County Council and gave the green light to Cuadrilla to start the controversial process on the Fylde Coast.

Makerfield MP Yvonne Fovargue told the Evening Post the decision by communities secretary Sajid Javid was worrying.

She said: “This is a deeply disappointing decision, a bad day for democracy and sets a dangerous precedent for the future.

“The Government has stated that local communities are best placed to determine these matters, yet the Secretary of State has ridden roughshod over the wishes of local communities and their elected local councils.”

Hydraulic fracturing - commonly known as fracking - has been allowed at a site at Preston New Road, Fylde.

Cuadrilla has been permitted to drill four wells despite the local authority previously turning down the application.

But there is a reprieve for a second site in Lancashire, Roseacre Wood, which has not yet been given the green light amid concerns over impacts on the local area.

Green Party borough representative Will Patterson told the Evening Post: “I’m devastated though not surprised.

“Residents have been clear from the start that they don’t want this dangerous dash for gas in their community or anyone else’s, and they’ve been supported by three layers of local government.

“Instead, the Government has decided to ride roughshod over local opinion. This week, we were promised a government that would listen to the people. We were promised a country that would work for everyone.

“Well, it might be working for big business and the fossil fuel industry but it’s not working for local communities.

“The Wigan and Leigh Green Party will continue to support campaigners in the area, and we are ready to respond to any attempts to frack in the borough.”

Environmental campaigners argue fracking can cause earth tremors and can pollute the water supply.

Supporters claim it is the answer to the UK’s energy problems.

Lee Petts, member of the Lancashire for Shale group, said: “This is excellent news for Lancashire’s businesses and future prosperity.”