Fracking inquiry to begin today

Fracking rig
Fracking rig
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An inquiry into fracking is due to start today.

It is set to begin in Blackpool on Tuesday morning, following applications from Cuadrilla to drill and test frack at a site near Little Plumpton, off Preston New Road, and at Roseacre.

Last June, after a series of delays brought about by both Cuadrilla and opponents, Lancashire County Council finally ruled on the two planning applications and the associated applications for extensive monitoring at the sites.

The monitoring at Roseacre was approved first and then the fracking bid after much deliberation was rejected at that site along with both the monitoring and fracking bids at Preston New Road.

They were refused on grounds of noise and visual impact at Preston new Road and on traffic impact grounds at Roseacre.

In September, Cuadrilla lodged four appeals to the Secretary of State against the decisions to refuse planning permission for both exploration sites, the monitoring site at Preston New Road and against one of the conditions imposed on the planning permission for the monitoring array at Roseacre Wood.

Today, the hearings begin at Blackpool Football Club’s Bloomfield Road ground, where protestors and supporters are expected to gather.

The inquiry is to be opened at 10am by government planning inspector Wendy Kay, who will compile a report on the issue which will be passed on to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, who will decide on the applications.

Opening statements will be made by Cuadrilla, Lancashire County Council, Friends of the Earth, the Roseacre Awareness Group and the Preston New Road Action Group.

Over the next five days, evidence from all interested parties will be presented.

On Wednesday, February 17, the first of two evening sessions will be held to allow people who work during the day to give evidence.

The second will be on Thursday, February 25. Both will start at 6.30pm.

Visits to the sites in question will take place on February 24.

It is expected that the hearings will finish on Friday, March 11.