Lancashire fracking decision could set ‘powerful precedent’

Lancashire fracking decision could set ‘powerful precedent’

32622822 - color shot of a shale gas drilling rig on a field.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has given the green light for shale company Cuadrilla to begin fracking in Lancashire. The decision overturns Lancashire County Council’s (LCC) refusal of Cuadrilla’s application to extract shale gas at two sites between Preston and Blackpool. It is the first time UK shale rock will be fracked horizontally, a technique designed to yield more gas.

 

Planning lawyers tell LexisNexis the case sets a powerful precedent, which shows the government will approve fracking applications ‘so as long as they can be justified environmentally’. Legal challenges to the decision will likely be ‘constrained to narrow grounds such as a point of law or procedural error’. It is also thought the case will provide guidance about how future such cases should be determined.

Mr Javid has approved plans for four wells to be drilled and fracked at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site, despite LCC concerns over the visual impact and noise.

However, Mr Javid delayed making a decision on the second site at Roseacre Wood to give Cuadrilla more time to provide evidence on road traffic issues. Nevertheless, he  said he felt inclined to grant planning permission at that site too. If approved, it will allow the drilling and fracking of another four wells.

Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan is pleased with the decision he says it will:

‘Create new economic growth opportunities and jobs for people in Lancashire and the UK.’

Environmental consequences

Clyde & Co partner Stelios Coutsavlis tells Lexis Nexis the decis

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