Lancashire PCC calls for £7m fracking policing costs to be repaid

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, PCC Clive Grunshaw has asked the Home Office to repay the full cost of policing the site

Lancashire Police should not shoulder the £7m cost of policing anti-fracking protests because the decision to allow the process was "borne in Whitehall", a police commissioner has said.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid granted permission for shale gas extraction at Little Plumpton in 2016.

The Preston New Road site has seen daily protests since January 2017.

The Home Office said its guidelines allowed for a £1.4m payment, but PCC Clive Grunshaw wants the full amount.

Police and crime commissioners can apply to the Home Office for special grant funding once an operation has cost more than 1% of the force's annual budget - which in Lancashire would be anything above £2.6m.

Image source, PA
Image caption, Protests have taken place at the Preston New Road site since January 2017

Under the guidelines, the grant may only cover additional costs like staff overtime or vehicle hire.

It cannot cover the 1% cost or "opportunity costs", such as officers working on the operation who were scheduled to work.

However, a PCC spokeswoman said Mr Grunshaw had asked the government to make an exception and fund the entire Preston New Road operation, as it had been an "extraordinary event".

She said he had written to Policing Minister Nick Hurd to ask him to reconsider because fracking was a national issue due to the government overturning Lancashire County Council's decision to refuse an application to frack at Little Plumpton.

Mr Grunshaw said the "expectation on Lancashire Constabulary to cover the costs of a decision borne in Whitehall is not a fair deal".

The Home Office said: "We have provided the Lancashire police and crime commissioner with up to £1.4m of funding in accordance with published special grant guidance."

Fracking or hydraulic fracturing is a technique designed to recover gas and oil from shale rock.

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