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Lancashire delays fracking decision to consider legal advice

Words: Huw Morris
Little Plumpton tracking

Members of Lancashire County Council have put off a decision on a controversial fracking proposal for shale gas until next week.

Cuadrilla plans to extract shale gas at Little Plumpton.

Councillors are now considering legal advice on whether they can refuse the application as contrary to development management policy.

Officers had recommended approval as the policy “states that proposals for minerals operations will be supported where it can be demonstrated that all material social, economic or environmental impacts that would cause demonstrable harm can be eliminated or reduced to acceptable levels”.

The legal advice warns councillors that refusal that is not backed by substantial objective evidence is unreasonable in planning terms. It said it is highly likely the applicant will appeal, with a high risk of a costs penalty being imposed on the council.

The advice also warns if a refusal will make it impossible for the case officer to give evidence at an appeal or for a “reputable” independent planning consultant to defend the council’s position.

Image: Cuadrilla