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Second UK fracking site set for ‘public inquiry’

Talks to resume on Cuadrilla Resource’s proposed Lancashire development after ‘conditional green light’

A public inquiry is set to begin on a second site in northern England proposed for fracking by Cuadrilla Resources, after the explorer won “conditional backing” from the government last year.

Despite opposition from environmental groups and locals, Cuadrilla proposed drilling for shale gas at two sites in Lancashire. Both developments were initially rejected by the Lancashire County Council, however, the decision was overturned last year by UK Communities Secretary Sajid Javid.

Javid gave the green light for a development at the Preston New Road site, where work has already started, and a final decision on the nearby second site, Roseacre Wood, was delayed, with Javid claiming he is also minded to give permission if certain additional conditions are met.

Now, the inquiry for further evidence on the highways safety issues will be reopen next year.

The planning inspectorate said the inquiry would now be conducted by a different planning inspector, which was usual procedure. The inquiry is expected to last six to eight days next year.

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Meanwhile, at Preston New Road, Cuadrilla is building an access road and will then establish a well pad and site. Drilling is expected to start in the second quarter of 2017.

The company has set up a dedicated viewing area near the site “in order to allow interested members of the public to observe the site from a safe location as work progresses”, it said.

“It is intended that the area will be open during daylight hours each day that works are taking place. The area, which has clear visibility of the site, is on private land owned by a local farmer who has agreed the use of this part of his land for this purpose,” Cuadrilla said.

“Members of the public interested in viewing the site are encouraged to make use of the space. The viewing area provides users with a safe position from which to observe work on the site and from which to conduct peaceful and lawful protest, if they wish,” the company added.

Locals lost last week a legal challenge to stop fracking in the area after a judge dismissed claims that Javid’s decision was “flawed”.

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, welcomed the High Court verdict and said: “We respected the democratic right of those opposed to this consent to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision.”

“However, we always remained confident that the planning consent would stand, particularly after such a lengthy and thorough review of the application and positive recommendations for approval by both the professional planning officers at Lancashire County Council and subsequently an experienced planning inspector,” Egan said.

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