National fracking college bosses hit by planning rejection blows

Bosses of England’s new national fracking college were today waiting to find out if appeals would be launched after two applications to use shale gas extraction method on their doorstep were thrown out by local councillors.

Blackpool and The Fylde College, the hub for the new National College for Onshore Oil and Gas, has already said it won’t be affected by rejection — and Lancashire County Council development control committee has done just that.

Cuadrilla wanted to drill four wells and undertake exploratory fracking for shale gas at a site near Little Plumpton on the Fylde.

The decision, delayed since January, was thrown out and followed the rejection days earlier of a bid to frack at another site between Preston and Blackpool.

Daryl Platt (pictured), executive director for commercial development at Blackpool and The Fylde College, the hub for the new National College for Onshore Oil and Gas, said it was waiting to find out if Cuadrilla — the firm behind the applications — would be appealing.

“The college has been set up to identify the future job roles required by industry and train workers to the highest safety standards, if and when required,” he said.

“The national college will have impact across the UK and we continue to work with partner colleges, universities and organisations to ensure we are ready to meet industry demand.

“Along with many other organisations, we are currently waiting to hear whether there will be any appeal to the Lancashire County Council decision.”

United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas’s (UKoog), the firm behind the college, has called for a change in the way fracking bids are determined.

Spokesperson Ken Cronin said: “An important plank of the government’s energy policy and manifesto commitment has been reduced to a position that despite all the advice a rejection has been given.

“This after 15 months of a long drawn out process cannot be right and I urge the government to urgently review the process of decision making.”

A Cuadrilla spokesperson said the firm was “surprised and disappointed” by the decision and was considering appeal, adding: “We remain committed to the responsible exploration of the huge quantity of natural gas locked up in the shale rock deep underneath Lancashire.”

 



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7 Comments

  1. An appeal is obvious here. Lancs Council was told by one of the countries most experienced planning lawyers that refusal was not sustainable based on the part of the code it was trying to use and that it would be highly likely to lose on appeal and that in that instance the council would face high costs.

    Two further pieces of legal advice were then obtained. One, by the industry, was from another of the countries top planning lawyers. She (who has been a lawyer since the 1980s and worked on the Hinkley Point C reactor and HS2) reaffirmed that the council could not sustainably refuse it and would face high costs if it did. The second was from an employment lawyer accepted to the bar 2 years ago, and gained by Friends of the Earth and no-surprise said the council could refuse.

    The council then ignored two of the countries top planning experts with combined 60 years experience and listened to the employment lawyer who has only been practising for a couple of years (actually they didn’t because they didn’t even bother listening to the second).

    The council has surely opened itself to a huge legal bill here and Cuadrilla should appeal and win this one to make the point that the council was wrong. They should then either give the money to charity, or give it back to the council.

  2. jillian wood

    Just turn the course into one for renewable energy and just finally get the message that people dont want fracking. We cannot keep burning fossil fuels what good is your money when you only have a toxic world to live in. When will you ever get it??? You were too hasty with the course now you will have to take your defeat gracefully im afraid.

  3. Richard Marshall

    Maybe the college could educate the youngsters about how to protect the environment and people from pollutants now that the County Council have listened to the concerns of the local residents, Director of Public Health, Medact Report, the DEFRA report, evidence from USA, Holland, Poland and Australia, advice from GP’s, geologists and economists.

  4. Neil Lewis

    If Blackpool and The Fylde College, the hub for the new National College for Onshore Oil and Gas, has already said it won’t be affected by rejection, why all the concern about Lancashire’s refusal of Cuadrilla’s two applications? Or is UKoog, in providing funding to establish the College as a ‘hub’, actually attempting something more? Will funding be withdrawn if Lancashire continues to say no? It seems there is far too much pressure, overt or otherwise, to bow to the expectations of large industries. United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas would certainly welcome changes in the way fracking bids are determined. Sadly, those changes would probably entail a total disregard for local opinion and democratic determination.

  5. Gina eastwood

    No to fracking. Look at the environmental damage done in other countries where fracking has been allowed. The are plenty of renewable energy products that could produce energy safely

  6. Julie Daniels

    Lancashire rejected Cuadrilla and the shale Gas industry.
    Think its been made quite clear it is not an industry that is welcome here. The college backed the wrong horse, probably blinded by the PR machine.A college offering Renewable training with R&D would be a better option.