Mark Menzies MP urges Secretary of State to dismiss Fylde shale gas site

Fylde MP Mark Menzies has said plans for a proposed shale gas site at Roseacre Wood should be thrown out following a public inquiry into the scheme.

This week the Planning Inspectorate released its findings following an appeal by Cuadrilla Resources after Lancashire County Council dismissed the company’s application for two exploration sites at Roseacre and at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

The Secretary of State then followed advice from the inspector and gave the go-ahead to the application for Little Plumpton, while delaying a decision on Roseacre Wood until important questions over traffic had been answered.

Mr Menzies said: “I am disappointed by the decision over the Preston New Road site as I have said many times that councillors made their decision following a thorough and lengthy debate on the issues involved and those decisions should be upheld.

“I am no fan of the Planning Inspectorate and have been among its most vocal critics at times, even previously calling for its abolition. However, the inspector appears to have looked at the matter rigidly on planning law and went with Lancashire County Council’s officers in recommending approval of the site.

“Where Roseacre Wood is concerned, the Secretary of State clearly felt that traffic around the site was a serious issue which had not been addressed by Cuadrilla’s application. That decision has now been deferred for a later date.

“I have had deep-seated concerns about the traffic issues around that site since it was first proposed and having allowed the official process to run its course I would have to say that, in my view, they appear to be insurmountable and that site should not go ahead. I will be writing to the Secretary of State to let him know my views.

“While I may be disappointed with these decisions, now is not the time to sit back and be despondent but to carry on working hard to ensure the Government meets its responsibilities surrounding the regulation of this industry.

“When I voted for a moratorium on shale gas it was about making sure that all the recommendations from the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering were implemented before any exploration can go ahead. The Government has said it will meet all those requirements, and I know good progress has been made, but drilling should not commence until they have been met.

“I have met with the Environment Agency and been assured it would have adequate resources for monitoring shale gas sites from a separate revenue stream recovered from the industry. However, this is something I will continue to press the Government on.

“This has to be regular ‘on the ground’ inspections, not just someone compiling data from behind a desk. I want to see people in high vis vests on the site going above and beyond their statutory duty. Regulations are only useful if they are vigorously enforced, and that is what I want to see.

“I have also argued for a single, overarching body to oversee all aspects of shale gas regulation and to communicate the work it is doing to local communities. We need somebody to regulate the regulators and ensure they are working to maximum capability.”

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