Bennett leads Lancashire demonstration of 500 people
HUNDREDS of protesters blockaded Lancashire County Hall yesterday as councillors deferred a decision to give the go-ahead to fracking.
Around 500 demonstrators voiced concerns over the adverse effects fracking would have on the environment, public health and homes, with many obstructing entry to the building in Preston by lying on the pavement and by linking arms.
Fifteen members of Lancashire County Council development control committee said they were under “intolerable pressure” to reach a conclusion, but nonetheless deferred their ruling until Monday to consider further legal advice.
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett led the rally in Preston by chanting: “We say No to the flaring, No to the air pollution, No to the light pollution!”
The proposal to restart fracking, which uses high-pressure chemicals, sand and water to smash shale rock to release the gas, was brought by energy giant Cuadrilla.
The practice was halted in Britain in 2011 due to earth tremors being recorded in Blackpool that were caused by drilling carried out by the firm.
A report from officials recommended one of the sites, at Preston New Road near Little Plumpton, be approved subject to a number of conditions being met on working hours, control of noise, highway matters and other issues.
Committee members are also due to meet today and tomorrow to rule on plans by Cuadrilla for a second site at Roseacre Wood.
Labour councillor Kevin Ellard moved a proposal to reject the Preston New Road application on the grounds that it did not meet planning guidelines, such as visual impact and landscape concerns.
He said: “We owe it to ourselves and future generations to get this right for the future. We cannot afford to gamble with the environment.”
Independent councillor Paul Hayhurst criticised advice from “experts” who claimed that fracking would have no detrimental effect on the environment and people’s lives.
He said: “The experts get things wrong and badly wrong on occasions.
“Although we have had various agencies saying chapter and verse how happy they are with the arrangements, these are government agencies. A government that has committed itself to shale gas.”
The government is pushing for a shale gas boom, claiming it would create jobs, reduce energy prices and cut Britain’s reliance on gas imports.