UK shale gas firm Cuadrilla Resources reported Wednesday that it has received a setback to its plans to drill, fracture and flow test up to four wells at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood in Lancashire, England. The news is a blow to the firm, which had only last week confirmed that it had won permits from the UK Environment Agency to carry out exploration at the two sites.
Cuadrilla said it was "very disappointed" that Lancashire County Council's planning officers have recommended that the council's Development Control Committee refuse planning consent for both of the firm's applications. The firm said that the officers have recommended refusal at Preston New Road only on grounds of night-time noise and at Roseacre Wood on noise and traffic concerns.
"We note that the Planning Officer's report has accepted the principle of our proposals and is satisfied with all other aspects of the planning applications and in particular their conclusion that properly-regulated hydraulic fracturing is 'very low risk'. We believe that the limited grounds on which the officers have recommended refusal can be satisfactorily resolved. Our applications are to drill, hydraulically fracture and test the flow of gas from up to four exploration wells at each of our proposed sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood," a Cuadrilla spokesperson said.
Cuadrilla pointed out that after a consultation of around seven months the Planning team at Lancashire County Council raised objections about background noise for both sites, but that the firm believed that it had come up with measures that would mitigate noise of drilling and hydraulic fracturing and that the proposed noise levels are within the limits set out in government guidance.
Cuadrilla also pointed out that its application at Roseacre Wood had already seen the firm supply extra information regarding traffic routes that it and its advisers believed addressed all the new issues that had been raised recently.
"In the end the councillors on the Development Control Committee will have to weigh the relatively-minor impacts which affect only a small number of households and for which we have proposed adequate proposals for mitigation against the wider local and national, jobs, growth and economic as well as energy security opportunities."
Ken Cronin, Chief Executive of the UK Onshore Operators Group, commented that he was disappointed that officials at Lancashire County Council had recommended the refusal of planning consent.
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