Fracking: Roseacre Wood public inquiry resumes

Image caption,
The inquiry is expected to last eight days

A public inquiry into plans for fracking at a second site in Lancashire has resumed.

Energy firm Cuadrilla's application to frack at Roseacre Wood was not given government approval amid concerns over the impact on the area.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said he "would be mindful" to allow fracking, but not before an inquiry to examine road safety issues.

The hearing at Blackpool Football Club is expected to last eight days.

Cuadrilla's lawyer Natalie Leiven told the hearing the firm's HGVs would not now go through the village of Wharles, near Roseacre Wood, except in emergencies to address road safety issues.

The firm argues that large vehicles already use these roads and it will introduce passing places to ensure safety and only use the routes on weekdays in daylight hours.

Mark Lappin, Cuadrilla's technical director, said: "We've brought in experts who've come up with three routes, and those three routes mean that we can be very confident what we have a safe system of operation.

"Passing places are a standard way of dealing with these and these roads do carry HGVs already."

David Bird, who has carried out traffic surveys for Cuadrilla, said there have been very few accidents in the area - three a year over the past six years - which he said was overall an excellent safety record.  

Image source, Friends of the Earth
Image caption,
Anti-fracking campaigners staged a demonstration outside the inquiry in Blackpool

But Alan Evans, from Lancashire County Council, told the inspector the mitigation proposed by Cuadrilla has made no difference to safety.

In response to the firm saying no accidents had happened involving HGVs in the past, he said there could be no guarantee none would happen in the future.

Barbara Richardson from the Roseacre Action Group who lives near the Roseacre site said the roads are too narrow.

She said: "Cuadrilla have tried to make out there's been no serious accidents.

"Just today, I was nearly run off the road into a verge by a transit van coming in the opposite direction on a bend.

"And it doesn't mean there isn't going to be an accident."

'Quiet rural roads'

Conservative MP for Fylde Mark Menzies is opposed to Cuadrilla's proposals because of concerns over the widespread use of HGVs in the area.

In a previous letter to the council he said: "The company's proposals simply cannot be reconciled with the quiet rural roads that service access to the proposed shale gas site.

"I am therefore clear that Cuadrilla's proposed Roseacre Wood site must not be permitted to go ahead."

At the end of the inquiry planning inspector Melvyn Middleton will send his recommendations to Mr Javid within three months.

Anti-fracking campaigner Julian Burton previously sought a judicial review to stop the inquiry.

But Manchester High Court refused the legal challenge.

Image caption,
Plans to frack at Roseacre Wood prompted concerns over the impact on the area

The government previously allowed the energy firm to frack at Preston New Road following an appeal, after Lancashire County Council rejected the plans.

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