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CPRE continues to campaign for fracking regulations

Friday, 07 October 2016 13:44

Inadequate monitoring arrangements for keeping fracking in target formations.

The Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has allowed the appeal at Preston New Road in Fylde Lancashire subject to Cuadrilla. A second site, Roseacre Wood has yet to be given the go ahead due to unresolved traffic impacts.

The Lancashire Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England has engaged with the decision making process for the planning applications and environmental permits submitted by the energy firm Cuadrilla for permission to frack four horizontal wells (each up to 2000 m in length) at each of the sites.

The Branch has sought to ensure that, if shale gas and oil development is permitted, operations have minimal impact on rural landscapes, avoid pollution and unsustainable use of natural resources, and minimise greenhouse gas emissions.

Above all, CPRE Lancashire believes it is crucial to have monitoring arrangements in place to ensure that fracking is confined to specified target formations at sufficient depth and executed in a manner which ensures an acceptable degree of risk. For this reason the CPRE Lancashire had opposed both planning applications, as the Environment Agency failed to secure this aspect of environmental regulation as part of the publicly available Environmental Permit.

CPRE Lancashire will endeavour to have this important issue regulated by the Oil and Gas Authority as part of the Hydraulic Fracture Plan. But regrettably this document will not be open for public scrutiny for a foreseeable period of time.

On hearing the decision, Jackie Copley, planning manager at CPRE Lancashire, said:

“We have been calling for adequate environmental safeguards to be specified both by the Environment Agency and the Oil and Gas Authority in advance of planning approvals. Essential requirements are that fracking is confined to shale formations at great depth and there is real time monitoring of the penetration of fracking fluid to ensure it is confined to the target formation.  Currently, the Environment Agency Permit does not give adequate protection against potentially harmful events and the Hydraulic Fracture Plan authorised by the Oil and Gas Authority is not open to consultation and remains confidential for a considerable time after it is granted.

“While the Preston New Road site has been given the go ahead without adequate safeguards, it is a small consolation that the excessive impact of heavy infrastructure and traffic at Roseacre Wood has been acknowledged. Whether the Government will show more commitment to environmental concerns at the Preston New Road site remains to be seen.

“It is now up to the Oil and Gas Authority to fully regulate fracking at the approved site, but this will lack transparency because it will years before the Hydraulic Fracture Plan is published. This secrecy sits ill with the government’s rhetoric in favour of environmental safeguards and local consultation.”

In the case of Roseacre Wood CPRE Lancashire had also objected to the harmful impacts arising from considerable HGV lorry movements on the network of narrow rural lanes.

Undoubtedly fracking is a controversial and an extremely complicated issue. CPRE Lancashire will continue to consider applications for shale exploration and production in the context of their local
circumstances and make the decision whether to support with conditions or to object outright.

CPRE Lancashire’s documents and position relating to fracking can be viewed in its Shale Gas section of its website.

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