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Lancashire Says FRACK OFF!

Mr Frackhead
“I’m going to frack here! I’m going to frack there! I’m going to frack every-fracking-where!” – Mr Frackhead

It has been a fraught five days in Lancashire. On Tuesday 23rd of June decisions amongst fifteen members of Lancashire County Council’s Development Control Committee began on Cuadrilla’s applications to drill and hydraulically fracture (frack) four wells at Roseacre and Little Plumpton on Preston New Road. Beforehand Mr Perigo (the Senior Planning Officer for LCC) had suggested Roseacre be refused and Little Plumpton should go ahead.

On the Tuesday I was part of a crowd of protestors who gathered outside Preston’s County Hall. Preston New Road Action Group, Roseacre Awareness Group, Frack Free Lancashire and Friends of the Earth came together with numerous other anti-fracking and environmental groups and local individuals to stand against Cuadrilla’s application.

I had to leave on Tuesday afternoon because I had taken temporary admin work that demanded I stay away at an international conference in Liverpool. Throughout my time there, feeling torn and far from home, the fate of the sites and the efforts of the protestors were in my prayers.

Tuesday and Wednesday were allocated to the decision on Little Plumpton. On Wednesday legal advice was given to the councillors by Mr. Manley (a QC) suggesting they had no legal reasons for rejecting the proposal. The councillors voted 7-7. Councillor Green abstained. Councillor Dad (the Chair) made the casting vote in favour.

In response to this, Councillor Hayhurst said that as the public would be dismayed by the result he wanted the legal advice which had forced the vote and tied their hands made known. He also asked for extra time so that local residents could receive their own legal advice. The council agreed to reconvene on this decision on Monday.

On Thursday the councillors voted against fracking at Roseacre 15-0.

After returning on Friday evening, I caught up with this news (which I’d heard by text message) and read the document containing the legal advice. This said rejecting the proposal on grounds of ‘landscape / visual and amenity impact’ was ‘unreasonable’ but not ‘unlawful’. ‘It is highly likely the applicant will appeal’ and ‘there is a high risk that a costs penalty will be imposed upon the council.’ This gave me some insight into how the vote had been forced and the pressure the councillors were under.

I attended the rally yesterday, which was extremely tense. After speeches from Friends of the Earth, Lancaster Council, Trade Unions and other groups we waited around loud speakers as the proceedings were broadcast outside.

I heard Councillor Green explain why he abstained. He said that on Wednesday the legal advice given vocally was that it was ‘illegal’ to reject the proposal rather than ‘unreasonable’. He argued that although Cuadrilla had agreed to reduce the visual impact from high to moderate this was still sufficient ground to turn the proposal down. Green said after considering the evidence and additional legal advice he had decided to vote against it.

Other councillors (I didn’t catch their names) spoke for and against during the debate. One pro-fracking councillor warned that those who rejected the proposal would have to give evidence at a future appeal. Another countered by saying that after they had been threatened on Wednesday they would not be threatened again. He also questioned who would provide the pubic liability insurance after Cuadrilla had left and the site started leaking, suggesting the people of Lancashire would end up paying for the damage.

Following this a vote was made on Little Plumpton. 9 voted against fracking, 4 for, and 2 abstained. Following the horrendous and unfair pressure the councillors had been put under this was a huge victory for democracy. The majority of LCC refused to be bullied and stood by their land and their people.

That fracking has been stopped in Lancashire (for now) brings hope it can be stopped in other counties, throughout the UK and across the world.

Hail democracy!
Hail dissent!
Hail the nine courageous members of LCC!

13 Comments »

  1. And hail the Gods and Land Spirits whose voices were heard and acted upon by those with consciences! 🙂

    I’m so glad to hear this…It pisses me off to no end that we have commercials here in the U.S., from Exxon and the like, which say that fracking is “safe for the environment” and so forth. In what world do they live? (The ones where they bankroll the “scientific” studies that say fracking is safe, I suspect…)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exxon giving the American people advice on what is or isn’t safe for the environment? You’re kidding, right? If they want more oil, they don’t need to engage in fracking … they just need to go finish cleaning up all the oil they left floating in the Prince William Sound, Alaska in 1989. Seriously, why would anyone actually trust what such companies have to say about the environment when money is involved?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, hail the water and land spirits and my underworld god! (who led me to involvement in these protests down a very bumpy road).

      I’m also shocked and surprised Exxon are allowed to air commercials saying fracking is safe, after all the damage they have done.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A heartfelt congratulations to the people of Lancashire: it’s not just good to see democracy trump capitalism, it’s good to know that there are entire communities of people willing to make a stand to protect the environment!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s a really great result but the protesters need to prepare – and are preparing it seems – for an appeal and also likely government interference / intervention.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, there will certainly be an appeal. Friends of the Earth have done a massively good job both at the protests and in raising money for alternative legal advice and I’m hoping to get more involved with them in the period leading up to the appeal. It seems certain if it goes to a higher level the Tory government will support Cuadrilla. It could be a case of Lancashire making a stand against the government?…

      Like

  4. Why would saying no to a fracking contract be “illegal” or “unreasonable”? There must be something I’m missing here.

    I applaud any municipality etc that will turn down a fracking contract.

    Like

    • It’s crazy, isn’t it? That’s why I applaud Councillor Green for saying it is, in fact, completely reasonable to turn down the application on grounds of visual impairment. And that they were told it was ‘illegal’ orally sounds like a downright lie… something very dodgy and very nasty going on there…

      Like

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