Government hopes for a shale-gas revolution have suffered a serious setback after Lancashire councillors unexpectedly rejected plans for the UK’s first fracking site – defying clear advice from their legal and planning advisors to wave them through.
The proposed project in Little Plumpton, near Preston, was turned down due to concerns over an “unacceptable noise impact” and the “adverse urbanising effect on the landscape”, Lancashire County Council said.
Cuadrilla, the company behind the unsuccessful application, said it would probably appeal the shock decision in what was widely seen as a “test case” for how willing local councillors would be to turn down fracking proposals.
The councillors’ own planning committee, whose recommendations they would typically be expected to follow, advised them to pass the application. Their legal advisors had also warned that there were insufficient grounds for rejection – which they said could open them up to a costly legal appeal.