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Government to have final say on Lancashire fracking sites

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government yesterday informed Lancashire County Council that the final decision on planning appeals concerning two fracking sites in Lancashire will be made directly by the Government instead of a planning inspector.

The appeals, which were submitted by Cuadrilla to the planning inspector following the Council's decision in June to refuse planning permission for shale gas exploration wells and associated infrastructure at two sites – Preston New Road, Little Plumpton and Roseacre Wood, will be heard by a planning inspector next year who will then forward recommendations to the Government.

The decision follows an announcement in September in which the Government stated that proposals for shale gas drilling would be included in the category of planning appeal decisions that can be decided directly by the Secretary of State.

The Secretary of State has decided to use the "recovery procedure" on account of the fact that the proposals for exploration and development of shale gas concern developments of major importance with broad legal implications.

Four members of Cornerstone Barristers are acting in relation to the planning appeals: Estelle Dehon has been instructed by Friends of the Earth; Ashley Bowes has been instructed by the Preston New Road Action Group; and Robin Green and Jack Parker have been instructed by the Roseacre Awareness Group.

Estelle Dehon comments:

"The Secretary of State's decision to use the recovery procedure is indicative of the far reaching implications of these appeals. It also serves to raise further questions around the Government's priorities in relation to fracking and localism."