The government has overturned a decision made by Lancashire council to reject applications for permits allowing hydraulic fracturing to take place.
Sajid Javid, the current Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government made the decision on Thursday that will allow drilling company Cuadrilla to frack for shale gas at the Preston New Road site – one of two sites that were initially proposed.
Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, was understandably pleased with the ruling, and did his best to appease naysayers, assuring them that “an exhaustive environmental impact assessment” had been conducted.
“We have assessed everything,” he said, “noise, traffic, water, emissions, etc,” assuring that “the Environment Agency are entirely comfortable with it”.
A decision has not yet been made regarding the second site, Roseacre, and will not until Cuadrilla (and other parties) have presented more evidence about the potential impact on the surrounding area, particularly with regard to noise and traffic related issues.
Mr Egan did address traffic concerns, arguing that the impact of preparing a site for fracking was actually fairly minimal – “far less, frankly, than a wind farm” he said, speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain show.
“The fact is,” he went on, “that this is a temporary development. There is traffic, obviously, you can;t do this without it, but we’re talking about 25 trucks a day at peak. That’s for a maximum of six weeks spread out over a two-year period.”
Mr Egan also argued that pursuing fracking within the UK would be a more environmentally sound option than importing the shale gas from other countries such as the US.
“The country needs gas,” he said, “the country is running out of gas, and without some form of energy development, we’re going to end up importing all of our fuel from overseas, and we’ve seen that just last week with the ridiculous situation where Scotland is importing shale gas from America, which frankly is crazy.”
The decision to permit fracking at the Preston New Road site was not met with open arms by everyone, particularly in the wake of the recent news that the ratification threshold for the Paris Climate Agreement has now been met.
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said the decision ultimately represents hypocrisy from the government. She said: “Ministers promise to support ‘ordinary people’ but have ignored the people of Lancashire – including local and district councillors and the overwhelming majority of local people who objected to these reckless plans.
“They claim to support the Paris agreement, but are hell-bent on developing new fossil fuel projects.”