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UK government heads to court as anti-fracking group protests drilling

By Conor Coyle

Date: Monday 13 Mar 2017

UK government heads to court as anti-fracking group protests drilling

(ShareCast News) - Anti-fracking protesters will take the UK government to court this week to block attempts to push through plans to grant energy firm Cuadrilla permission to drill in test sites in Lancashire.
The Manchester court will be presented with two cases on Wednesday on behalf of the group of protesters, who have voiced concerns about the environmental impact of fracking at the test site near Blackpool.

Lancashire county council initially rejected plans from Cuadrilla to use the area at Preston New Road to extract shale gas, before the decision was overturned by UK communities secretary Sajid Javid.

But protestors have argued that Javid's October decision to overrule the council was unlawful as it failed to properly take into account relevant planning laws and policy.

Since protests began at the site in January following the start of Cuadrilla's work, at least 60 police officers have been stationed in the area in order to facilitate peaceful protest and allow work to continue.

Last week Cuadrilla won an injunction to prevent protesters going on to a farmer's field at its drill site, though protestors retained the right to make their thoughts known at the nearby roadside.

An argument has erupted about who should foot the cost of the extra security forces, with the local council demanding that the government pick up the cheque.

"It is not fair or just that these costs should be borne by the people of Lancashire," said local police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw on Sunday.

"This was a decision taken by Javid's department, not Lancashire county council, and so I really believe that the government should fund the policing."

Fracking is a controversial method of generating energy through the release of shale gas reserves by using a mixture of water, sand and chemicals pumped under the ground at high pressure to release gas and oil trapped in rock, with critics saying that it causes unnecessary pollution, causes geological instability and allows energy firms to avoid the use of renewable sources.

Last year, as he overturned the council's decision, communities secretary Javid said shale gas had "the potential to power economic growth, support 64,000 jobs, and provide a new domestic energy source, making us less reliant on imports".

Also on Monday, fellow shale companies IGas and Dart Energy are expected to hear the recommendations of planning officers on its application for a shale gas well in Nottinghamshire, ahead of a committee meeting to discuss a planning application to undertake exploratory drilling for shale gas on 21 March.

The application was submitted by Dart Energy in May last year to drill one exploratory vertical well 3,300 metres deep and three sets of groundwater monitoring boreholes on land off the A634 between Barnby Moor and Blyth.


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