Lancashire fracking inquiry: 3 reasons fracking must be stopped

4th May 2016

Huge decisions on fracking are due to be made this month. Here are 3 reasons why fracking needs to be rejected in Lancashire, and everywhere else.

Friends of the Earth took part in the 6 week public inquiry alongside the community groups of Preston New Road Action Group and Roseacre Awareness Group as well as two parish councils.

Thousands of people registered objections to the applications at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.

Getting our voices heard

It’s a crucial civil right to speak and be heard at a planning inquiry. When else does a developer or planning Inspector sit and listen to community and expert concerns?

An amazing 100 people came to speak at the inquiry, the overwhelming majority against the proposals. They spoke about their children, their community, their livelihoods, and the future if we fail to stop fracking. It was heartfelt and moving, showing the love and care they feel for their community and their place.

Our case

Friends of the Earth helped local communities in Lancashire to get two fracking applications turned down. But Cuadrilla, the fracking company involved, appealed the decisions. This March the appeals inquiry got under way.

Friends of the Earth decided to tackle three of the problems raised by Cuadrilla’s proposals in the planning inquiry.

But these issues are also common to many fracking applications – the waste produced, the greenhouse gas emissions they generate, and the impacts on public health.

We asked expert witnesses to give independent evidence – Professor Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre, Manchester University on climate change, Mr Alan Watson of Public Interest Consultants on waste, Dr David McCoy of Queen Mary’s University London on public health, and Mr Richard Bate of Green Balance on land-use planning.

We also supported the communities’ case on noise, visual impact and transport issues.

  1. Climate change

The greenhouse gas emissions from both projects are high – equivalent to 18 months of all car travel within the Fylde area.

There is also the problem that the Government is failing to face up to: that under our existing commitments on climate change, gas doesn’t really have a role in electricity generation in around 14 years’ time.

And the Paris Agreement means we need to be even more careful about not exploring for shale gas we can’t use if we are to stick to the Agreement.

2. Waste

After pumping the fracking fluids into the well, what comes back out is known as “flowback fluid”. The unknowns about flowback fluid were highlighted in the inquiry.

Flowback fluid can’t be treated in ordinary sewage treatment plants. And there is very limited capacity for specialist treatment as Friends of the Earth pointed out during the inquiry.

Our expert witness found that the figures in the waste management plan were different – four times greater – than the figures that were being considered in the inquiry itself. Cuadrilla claimed this was an error – but if so, the Environment Agency had signed off a document with this huge error contained within.

3. Public health

Anyone from a community facing a fracking application could be feeling worried about what will happen to them.

It’s pretty clear from research that people do feel concern about fracking near them. Just this stress and anxiety for people is a public health matter.

There are also the direct impacts from noise (the 24-hour drilling) which affects people’s sleep if they are close to the site.

What happens now?

The Inspector will be writing her report, which will then go to Greg Clark, the Secretary of State.

Unfortunately national planning policy is rigged in favour of fracking by the Government.

So we are fighting to get the real problems that fracking causes to matter in the decisions that will be taken.

You can help us by asking Greg Clark to change the national planning policy on fracking, and by asking him to support the decision of Lancashire County Council to refuse the application and dismiss these appeals.

This inquiry marks decision time for fracking.

Sign the petition: Don’t let David Cameron overturn Lancashire’s fracking win


Post written by Naomi Luhde-Thompson, 3rd May 2016