UK: Lancashire Council defers fracking decision to consider legal advice
The Lancashire Council has decided to defer its decision to 29 June on whether to give the green light to fracking for shale gas at two sites in the county to give councillors time to consider legal advice.
Privately owned exploration company Cuadrilla has applied to drill at two sites – Little Plumpton and Roseacre Wood – on Lancashire's Fylde Coast.
Planning officers at Lancashire County Council have already recommended the site at Little Plumpton be approved for fracking but rejected Roseacre Wood over concerns regarding the increase in traffic it will bring to the area.
At the meeting held on 24 June, Lancashire councillors complained that their deliberations on the application had been constrained by "secret" legal advice which they had been provided with, privately, only hours before the planned vote, according to the Independent.
Councillor Paul Hayhurst proposed a motion to make the advice received public and the motion was passed. The legal advice could be published today, it said.
"The fact is that members of the committee have been given legal advice that has tied their hands and it has been a waste of time us being here the last few days. I think the legal advice must be shown to the public," Hayhurst said.
Although the councillors declined to disclose details of the legal advice received ahead of its official publication, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett noted that the councillors are under huge amount of pressure.
The outcome of the vote will have huge implications for the future of the shale gas industry in the UK, the paper said. Approval for fracking would boost prospects for a fracking revolution as it would show that local councils are willing to approve planning applications despite widespread local opposition and concerns about earth tremors and air and water pollution.
The paper said a vote against fracking would be a reflection of the opposition to the technology and the willingness of local councils to make decisions independent of the central government.
About 200 protestors gathered outside the County Hall in Preston for the decision yesterday, BBC reported.
Karen Merritt of Lytham told the BBC that deferring until Monday "does not give us long enough," to consider the legal advice.