BY RUTH HAYHURST ON JANUARY 10, 2018
Two Conservative MPs in Lancashire are objecting to Cuadrilla’s updated traffic plans for another fracking site near Blackpool.
Mark Menzies, who represents Fylde, said:
“Cuadrilla Resources’ proposed Roseacre Wood site must not be permitted to go ahead”
He said Cuadrilla’s revised routes for deliveries did not overcome what he called the “central insuperable issue” that local roads were “wholly unsuitable” for frequent heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).
“I do not believe that HGV traffic concerns can be addressed at the site”
Mark Menzies and Ben WallaceMark Menzies (left) and Ben Wallace
Ben Wallace, MP for Wyre and Preston North, said:
“I will be objecting to all the routes proposed as I do not consider them to be safe or viable.”
Cuadrilla submitted new proposals for deliveries to Roseacre Wood after the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, re-opened the public inquiry on the site.
The company has added two additional routes, taking lorries through an extra five communities. All three routes would need 39 passing places, according to Cuadrilla’s proposals. The company said the “new multiple routes proposed will lessen impact on any one area”. DrillOrDrop report
The planning inspector at the original inquiry in 2016 recommended refusal of the Roseacre Wood proposal on highway safety grounds.
In her report she said the plans to drill, frack and test up to four shale gas wells at Roseacre Wood would be “neither safe nor sustainable”.
“I conclude that all other material considerations are strongly outweighed by the harm that would result to highway safety.”
The new inquiry, which will look only at traffic issues, is scheduled to open on 10 April 2018 in Blackpool. A public consultation on what are described as Cuadrilla’s traffic mitigations closes today (10 January 2018).
“Roads are wholly unsuitable”
Responding to the consultation, Mark Menzies said:
“The company’s proposals simply cannot be reconciled with the quiet rural roads that service access to the proposed shale gas site. I am therefore clear that Cuadrilla Resources’ proposed Roseacre Wood site must not be permitted to go ahead as there are no circumstances in which it can mitigate against the unacceptable hazard that the introduction of such a large number of HGVs will present to local road users.”
Mr Menzies, who also objected to the Roseacre Wood site when it went before Lancashire County Council in 2015, said of the latest scheme:
“The proposed shale gas site at Roseacre Wood is serviced exclusively by narrow local roads which are wholly unsuitable to take the frequent passage of HGVs which would be necessitated by the construction of a shale gas exploration site.
“The company’s proposed mitigation cannot overcome the central, insuperable issue in this case – that roads around Roseacre Wood are simply unsuitable for 50 HGVs to travel per day.
“All three routes will take HGV traffic through villages that are not equipped to take large volumes of heavy goods traffic.”
Cuadrilla said it had permission to send HGVs through the defence establishment, DHFCS Inskip, to avoid the village of Wharles for all phases of the project except extended flow testing.
But Mr Menzies questioned whether this would have any positive impact. He said:
“Traffic must still travel along narrow roads through villages to reach DHFCS Inskip”.
“Not safe or viable”
Ben Wallace confirmed his opposition to the Roseacre Wood site in his column in this month’s Garstang Focus magazine. His constituency includes the village of Inskip and the boundary is close to Roseacre and Elswick.
“Cuadrilla is now consulting on three possible HGV routes.
“I will be objecting to all the routes proposed as I do not consider them to be safe or viable. I would encourage you to participate in the consultation process.”
Residents and campaign groups have welcomed the MPs’ opposition to the revised traffic measures.
Barbara Richardson, speaking for Frack Free Lancashire, said
“We are pleased that Mark Menzies has raised his objection to Cuadrilla’s revised Traffic Plan and hope it carries some weight with the newly appointed Planning Inspector at the Inquiry in April.
“Frack Free Lancashire will continue to oppose any attempts to impose fracking on unwilling communities in Lancashire due to the inherent risks to people’s health, the environment and climate change.
“In the case of Roseacre Wood, Cuadrilla’s planning application to explore for shale gas has been rejected at every level from residents, both parish and borough councils, Lancashire County Council’s Highways Officer, LCC’s Planning Officer, LCC’s Development Control Committee and finally by the government’s own appointed, independent Planning Inspector, Wendy McKay.”
In her report, Mrs McKay concluded that the development was not safe or sustainable and so did not have the support of a Written Ministerial Statement on shale gas. She said:
“The national need for shale gas exploration cannot therefore be pleaded in support of this appeal. Even if it were appropriate to take that factor into account, I believe that the need to ensure the safety of members of the public is paramount and would strongly outweigh that important consideration.”
Mrs Richardson said of the decision to reopen the inquiry:
“This makes a mockery of local democracy. Why should Cuadrilla be given yet another opportunity to try and overcome something they have failed to do for the last 4 years?
“From what can be seen of their latest traffic proposals they do nothing to mitigate the very real danger to public safety and will actually put even more communities and people at risk. It is an accident waiting to happen. Enough is enough”.
“Plans will devastate parish”
Heather Speak, Chair of Roseacre, Treales and Wharles Parish Council and a Fylde Borough Councillor for Newton & Treales, said:
“Both our Parish Council and Fylde Borough Council strongly oppose Cuadrilla’s proposals for the Roseacre Wood site.
“We do not believe their revised traffic plans will overcome the inherent road safety issues associated with our rural roads. This will totally devastate our parish and make the residents lives a misery.
“The traffic proposals present a real and present danger to all our rural road users and will actually put people’s lives at risk.
“We are adamant this must not be allowed to go ahead. I for one would not like to be responsible if it does. I am genuinely frightened.”
“Unnecessary attempts to industrialise countryside”
Jim Nisbet, Chair of Roseacre Awareness Group, a residents’ group opposing Cuadrilla’s Roseacre Wood plans, said:
“Roseacre Awareness Group is very pleased to see the comments from our local MP, Mark Menzies, which recognise the unsuitability of Cuadrilla’s latest traffic mitigation proposals for Roseacre Wood.
“We can only hope that his senior colleagues within Government wake up to these unnecessary attempts to industrialise our countryside.
“Recent government reports have made it clear that shale gas is not needed for energy security in the UK and we should cease this march towards further fossil fuel extraction immediately and invest further in renewable energy, that is the way forward.”
BackgroundCuadrilla’s revised transport route strategy documents can be seen here. The appeal reference is APP/Q2371/W/15/3134385 and comments should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of today (10 January 2018).
The inspector at the reopened inquiry is Melvyn Middleton. The inquiry, expected to sit on eight days, will hear evidence from Cuadrilla, Lancashire County Council, Roseacre Awareness Group, Treales, Roseacre and Wharles Parish Council and Newton-with-Clifton Parish Council.
The inquiry is due to start at 10am on Tuesday 10 April 2018 at Blackpool Football Club Hotel and Conference Centre, Bloomfield Road, Seasiders Way, Blackpool, Lancashire FY1 6JJ.