Lancashire

Preston New Road campaigners to fight fracking decision

Protesters
Image caption Preston New Road Action Group urged the government to reconsider its decision

The decision to allow fracking for shale gas in Lancashire is being challenged by an anti-fracking group.

The government approved plans for horizontal fracking in Little Plumpton, Lancashire, this month in a landmark ruling for the UK's shale gas industry.

The county council rejected Cuadrilla's fracking application but it was overruled by the communities secretary.

Preston New Road Action Group has written to the government saying the decision was unlawful.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said the decision followed "extensive consideration".

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Image caption Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said a legal challenge was "not unexpected"

The group argued the decision was "fundamentally flawed in its misapplication of planning laws and policy" and urged the government to reconsider.

If it refuses, campaigners will consider bringing a statutory legal challenge through the courts.

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Media captionHow fracking will take place in Lancashire

In a statement, the group said: "The dismantling of local democracy to facilitate this industry is a travesty of justice and... troubling on a number of fronts.

"Lancashire said 'no' loudly and clearly and in line with local planning policies, that decision should stand."

Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said a legal challenge was "not unexpected" but the plan was approved after "an extensive public inquiry and lengthy and detailed subsequent consideration by the planning inspector and communities secretary".

He added: "We are confident all due processes have been followed and DCLG can and will demonstrate this as necessary."

Image caption The Little Plumpton site at Preston New Road is situated between Blackpool and Preston

Communities Secretary Savid Javid previously said the shale gas industry would support thousands of jobs and reduce the UK's reliance on energy imports.

The DCLG said in a statement: "The decision followed extensive consideration of all the evidence, including an independent planning inspector's report and evidence submitted during a two week public inquiry."

It is not the first time fracking has been approved since a ban was lifted in 2012.

It is however the first to involve horizontal drilling, which is seen as more productive than vertical drilling.

In May, North Yorkshire County Council approved an application by Third Energy to vertically extract shale gas at a site near Kirby Misperton in Ryedale.

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