Lancashire fracking decision deferred until Monday

Anti-fracking protest
Image caption Anti-fracking protests were held outside Lancashire County Hall in Preston where the meeting took place

The decision on whether to give the go-ahead to fracking for shale gas in Lancashire has been deferred, while councillors consider legal advice.

Energy firm Cuadrilla wants to extract shale gas at Little Plumpton and Roseacre Wood on the Fylde Coast.

The county council began considering the Little Plumpton bid on Tuesday, after fracking was suspended in the UK in 2011.

It will resume its debate of the proposal on Monday.

About 200 protesters waited outside County Hall in Preston for a decision that never came.

Following a session of legal discussion held in private, the committee's deputy chairman, councillor Kevin Ellard (Labour), put forward a motion to reject the plan on the grounds it did not meet planning guidelines, such as visual impact and landscape.

The motion failed but councillor Paul Hayhurst (Independent) told the hearing the legal advice should be made public.

A motion was then passed to publish but by the time it arrived at 17:00 BST councillors decided it was too late in the day to make a decision.

Karen Merritt of Lytham welcomed the deferral so objectors could consider the legal advice, adding, "I don't think deferring until Monday gives us long enough".

And Jasper Singh, of Friends of the Earth Lancashire, agreed more time was needed and described the councillors as "not behaving democratically".

Earlier the meeting of the county council's development control committee heard councillors had been under "intolerable pressure" in making the final ruling on the controversial process.

Councillors are expected to make a decision on the application for the Roseacre Wood site on Friday.

That application has been recommended for refusal, with planning officers maintaining there would be "an unacceptable impact" on rural roads.

Fracking - or hydraulic fracturing - is a technique in which water and chemicals are pumped into shale rock at high pressure to extract gas.

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