Residents’ surprise at blocked legal challenge over Roseacre Wood fracking site

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BY RUTH HAYHURST ON APRIL 15, 2017

A community group said this afternoon it was “very surprised” that a high court judge had blocked the legal challenge over Cuadrilla’s proposed fracking site at Roseacre Wood.

Roseacre resident, Jules Burton, heard earlier today that he would not be allowed to oppose in court the decision by Communities’ Secretary, Sajid Javid, to reopen the public inquiry on the site.

Lancashire County Council had refused planning permission for Roseacre Wood on highway safety grounds and a planning inspector recommended dismissing Cuadrilla’s appeal for the same reason. But Mr Javid said in October last year he was minded to approve planning permission. He said the reopened inquiry would give the company an opportunity to put new evidence on how it would address road safety issues.

“Strong grounds”
Roseacre Awareness Group, which opposed Cuadrilla’s plans to drill, frack and test up to four wells at Roseacre Wood, said:

“We believed Mr Burton had sufficient and strong grounds for a legal challenge. After all, Lancashire County Council’s Highway’s Officer, LCC Planning Officer, LCC Development Control Committee and an independent Planning Inspector all determined the Roseacre application should be rejected on traffic and road safety grounds.

“This is a very rural location whose country lanes are used by many vulnerable road users, such as cyclists, equestrians and pedestrians, and a significant increase in large industrial traffic will pose a significant risk of serious harm to those road users. We totally agree with LCC that the application should be rejected.

“How Sajid Javid can be ‘minded’ to approve the application if Cuadrilla can mitigate traffic issues beggars belief. Cuadrilla have had over three years to overcome any traffic problems and have consistently failed to do so.”
“Unnecessary burden”
A statement by the group continued:

“To re-open the Public Inquiry poses an unnecessary burden (both in time and expense) on not only LCC and the tax payer but ourselves and other parties such as our parish council, as we will now have to represent all our evidence, and prepare new evidence, to prove once again that Roseacre Wood is not a suitable site for an industrial development of this nature.

“I am sure Mr Burton will be very disappointed with this news as are we. I am sure he will be seeking further legal advice.

“You can be reassured that Roseacre Awareness Group will expend every effort to fight this application in whatever way we can in order to protect our community from harm”.

“Deep concern”
Claire Stephenson from Preston New Road Action Group said:

“We are deeply concerned at Mr Justice Dove’s decision announced today, regarding the refusal of Jules Burton’s challenge against the Secretary of State’s decision to allow a second enquiry over fracking at Roseacre.

“Once again, this appears to be a top-down show of authoritarianism, pitting the powerful against the powerless: communities are unable to have a say in their own future regarding fracking if they go against the vested interests of a pro-shale government and fracking industry’s plans.

“More so today, it indicates that the planning inquiry held in Blackpool was nothing more than an orchestrated performance, set out to tick some government box on the allowing the pretence of democracy.

“Our communities will continue to stand side-by-side in the wake of this unexpected news.”

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