Cuadrilla welcomes High Court verdict

Energy firm Cuadrilla has welcomed today’s High Court ruling dismissing a legal challenge against the planning consent given for its Fylde shale gas exploration site.

Cuadrilla logoThe company described the verdict as “great news” for Lancashire businesses and workers.

Anti-fracking campaigners went to court to contest Communities Secretary Sajid Javid’s decision to give the go ahead for the exploration site at Preston New Road in Little Plumpton.

Following today’s ruling by Mr Justice Dove in the High Court, Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said: “We are very pleased that the Planning Inspector’s recommendation and the Secretary of State's decision to grant planning consent has been upheld by the High Court.

“We respected the democratic right of those opposed to this consent to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision.

“However we always remained confident that that the planning consent would stand, particularly after such a lengthy and thorough review of the application and positive recommendations for approval by both the professional Planning Officers at Lancashire County Council and subsequently an experienced Planning Inspector.

“This is also great news for all those local businesses and workers in Lancashire that are currently and will in the future be benefiting from the increased revenue and job opportunities that our operations are bringing to the county.

“Work continues on the construction of the exploration site and we look forwards to progressing to the drilling stage of our operations within the next couple of months."

A spokesman for the pro-shale gas  ‘Backing Fracking’ group said: “This decision will no doubt disappoint some local campaigners, but we hope that they will accept it and choose not to pursue any further form of appeal.

“We hope it also sends a clear message to the national protestors that have been involved in weeks of disruptive direct action at the site itself and the premises of local suppliers to Cuadrilla.”

They added: “It’s now time to let Cuadrilla get on with finding the answers we’re all looking for: can this gas be extracted in sufficient quantities to enable a viable shale gas industry to grow in Lancashire, creating jobs and boosting the economy?”

Meanwhile, anti-fracking campaigners in Lancashire expressed their disappointment with today’s ruling. Commenting on the court decision, the Frack Free Lancashire group said: “Lancashire said NO and we mean it.” Lancashire campaigners said this afternoon that they would continue their fight and would be taking legal advice on options open to them. Claire Stephenson, a member of the Preston New Road Action Group, told the Guardian newspaper: “We are truly dismayed at this decision.”