Fracking decision is in their hands...

Couns Dad, Newman-Thompson, Aldridge, Snape, Penney. Middle ' Couns Johnstone , Holgate,  Yates,Sedgewick, Rigby. Bottom ' Couns Green, Devaney, Howarth, Hayhurst
Couns Dad, Newman-Thompson, Aldridge, Snape, Penney. Middle ' Couns Johnstone , Holgate, Yates,Sedgewick, Rigby. Bottom ' Couns Green, Devaney, Howarth, Hayhurst

These are the 13 men and two women who will next week decide upon controversial planning applications to drill and frack on the Fylde.

Lancashire County Council’s development control committee will spend at least two days considering the applications by Cuadrilla for the sites at Little Plumpton and Rose-acre Wood.

There are seven Labour, six Conservatives, one Liberal Democrat councillor and one Independent.

Here ROB DEVEY profiles each of the members...

Labour

Munsif Dad (committee chairman)

Represents: Accrington West.

Elected: 2013.

Appointments to other bodies: Hyndburn District Community Safety Partnership, William Blythe Consultation Forum.

Previous public comments on fracking: None found.

Richard Newman-Thompson (committee vice chairman)

Represents: Lancaster East.

Elected: 2013.

Appointments to other bodies: Lancaster District Community Safety Partnership, Lancaster University Court, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Improvement Board (reserve), University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

Previous public comments on fracking: None found.

Marcus Johnstone

Represents: Padiham and Burnley West.

Elected: 2013

Appointments to other bodies:Arthur Edmonson Quinn Bequest, Central Lancashire Development Framework Joint Advisory Committee, Heritage Trust for the North West, Joint Advisory Committee for Strategic Planning, Padiham Youth Centre Advisory Committee, Rivington Heritage Trust

Previous public comments on fracking: November 2014, supported the idea of a single fracking industry regulator at Lancashire County Council’s executive scrutiny committee: “As we go further down this debate the case for industry-specific regulation becomes more and more compelling. We currently have four regulators and the report has actually drawn out the fact that there is a fifth with the district council’s environmental health function. That is a total nonsense that any industry can have four regulators.”

Terry Aldridge

Represents: Skelmersdale Central.

Elected: 2005.

Appointments to other bodies: Ageing Well Forum, Council for Voluntary Services, West Lancashire District Community Safety Partnership, Older People’s Champions Network North West of England, Skelmersdale Town Centre Regeneration Project, Tanhouse, Moorside and Digmoor Neighbourhood Board, Lancashire Combined Fire Authority.

Previous public comments on fracking: None found.

Kim Snape

Represents: Chorley Rural East.

Elected:2013.

Council appointments: Champion for Young People, Chorley Three Tier Forum, Commons and Town Greens Sub-Committee (Deputy Chair), Corporate Parenting Board, Regulatory Committee (Deputy Chair).

Previous public comments on fracking: None found.

Niki Penney

Represents: Skerton (Lancaster)

Elected:1989

Appointments to other bodies: Lancaster District Community Safety Partnership, James Bond/Henry Welch Trust, Lancaster University Court

Museums Partnership Advisory Panel, Public Rights of Way and Access Forum, The Dukes Playhouse Limited, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Improvement Board.

Previous public comments on fracking: None found.

Steven Holgate

Represents: Chorley West.

Elected: 2013

Appointments to other bodies: Chorley and South Ribble District Community Safety Partnership, Lancashire Waste Private Finance Initiative Project Liaison Group (reserve).

Previous public comments on fracking:None found.

Conservatives

Barry Yates

Represents: South Ribble Rural East

Elected: 2013.

Council appointments: Commons and Town Greens Sub-Committee, Pension Fund Committee, Regulatory Committee.

Previous public comments on fracking: None found.

Keith Sedgewick

Represents: Preston North East

Elected: 2013.

Appointments to other bodies: Preston Three Tier Forum.

Previous public comments on fracking: None found.

Paul Rigby

Represents: Fylde South.

Elected: 2009

Appointments to other bodies: Fylde District Community Safety Partnership; Springfields Site Stakeholder Group, Springfield Fuel Ltd.

Previous public comments on fracking: In December 2010 on plans by Cuadrilla to explore land off Anna’s Road, in Westby: “We have to find out what the resources are. If it’s going to help in the long term I think we’ve all to go along with it.”

At meeting in May 2014: “Safety and regulations need to be watertight. The actual process has to be done very, very carefully.”

Michael Green

Represents:Leyland South West.

Elected: 2009.

Appointments to other bodies: Joint Advisory Committee for Strategic Planning, director of Marketing Lancashire and director of Preston Vision Limited.

Previous public comments on fracking: December 2012: “Any decisions will take account of all representations received on planning grounds, which would include guidance from those agencies responsible for determining the safety of the fracking process and any environmental impacts – namely the Department for Energy and Climate Change, the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency.

“Naturally we’re keeping a close eye on developments in this area and await with interest further news on national energy policy, the establishment of a shale gas office and what role and responsibilities it may have, whether shale gas reserves in Lancashire could be exploited commercially, and the possible impacts of this upon the county.”

July 2012: “We understand some people have concerns about fracking and, if the Government takes the decision to allow operations to continue, we will work with the relevant agencies to ensure it is carried out safely.”

Michael Devaney

Represents: Chorley Rural North.

Elected: 2009.

Council appointments: Chorley Three Tier Forum

Previous public comments on fracking: None found.

Peter Buckley

Represents:St Annes North.

Elected: 2013.

Appointments to other bodies: Fylde District Children and Young People’s Trust Board, Lancashire Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (quality and standards sub-group).

Lancashire Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) - (Representing Lancashire County Council)

Previous public comments on fracking: After being elected in May 2013: “I’ve lived here nearly all my life and there are plenty of issues I want to support people on. In St Annes North we have the Pontins and Queensway developments as well as fracking – for many people these are big issues to them.”

In October 2013 Coun Buckley said his home was close to one of the proposed fracking sites and added that he had conducted a straw poll of residents in his area and found them split between for and against in equal numbers.

At a meeting in May 2014; “My number one priority is regulations and safety is enforced.” 


Liberal Democrats

David Howarth

Represents: Penwortham North.

Elected: 2013.

Council appointments: Cabinet Committee on the Lancashire County Commercial Group, Conduct Committee, Employment Committee.
Previous public comments on fracking: None found.

Independent

Paul Hayhurst

Represents: Fylde West.

Elected: 2009

Appointments to other bodies: Westby Local Liaison Committee.

Membership of other bodies: Also a councillor on Fylde Borough Council and chairman of Elswick Parish Council.

Previous public comments on fracking: In September 2011: Telling how the area around his home village of Elwick was fracked more than 20 years previously when a gas well in Roseacre (not for shale gas) was established, Coun Hayhurst said: “Every man and his dog was up in arms about it.

“They were using the same fracking process and there was lots of opposition.

“But the fact is they got planning permission, went ahead and I’ve not had one complaint.”

He added: “Most people in Elswick don’t even know it’s there.

“It’s behind a hedge and the only thing you see is the sign for Cuadrilla. There are a few small buildings and gas is collected and made into electricity on site.

“We’ve never had a problem with it.”

In April 2012 after being contacted by Singleton residents who complained their homes were left shaking when Cuadrilla carried out a geo-physical survey, he said: “People were expecting a very different sort of exercise from what they are having to put up with. It is very noisy and very close to houses, so it’s making them shake.”

July 2014: Ahead of a discussion at a Fylde Council meeting calling for a moratorium on fracking, Coun Hayhurst said he had personal interests because of his membership of the Elswick Community Project Fund and Elswick Parish Council, both of which had received funding from Cuadrilla.

He declared a prejudicial interest and took no part in the debate, because he said he did not want to prejudice his ability to speak at the Development Control Committee meeting which would consider Cuadrilla’s planning application.

At meeting in May 2014 Coun Hayhurst said: “It is absolutely vital the full (planning) process is undertaken with no shortcuts.”

Delight... but the fight is not over

Delighted residents in Little Plumpton and Roseacre welcomed recommendations to refuse permission to frack – but admitted the fight is far from over.

Pat Davies, chairman of the Preston New Road Action Group in Little Plumpton said: “We are delighted. We hoped that this would happen.

“We feared the county council would go a different way. Thousands of people have objected to fracking.”

Mavis Kemp, 77, of Foxwood Chase, Little Plumpton, said: “I was shocked when I heard what the planners said but having the site here was very concerning. People thought it was a done deal.”

Susan Holliday, of Foxwood Chase added: “It is a step in the right direction. It still has to go to council next week but we are hopeful.”

Ebony Ava Johnson, 36, of (above) of Frack Free Lancashire, said the decision could be of huge importance to the county.

She added: “I think we are all still surprised by the news. It has been so difficult to get to where we are today. It’s a step forward to a frack free Lancashire. We are absolutely delighted. I just hope the council votes to protect people in Lancashire and Fylde.”

John Tootill, owner of Maple Farm Nursery in Moss House Lane (right) said he was pleased – but felt other impacts related to fracking had been overlooked.

He added: “It has been a relief. The good news is this has been recommended for refusal. I am happy about that but I am disappointed it is only about the noise issues.

“Nothing has been said about the health impacts.”

However, Gaynor Waring, 73, of Foxwood Chase, said: “I am completely in favour of fracking – all this does is delay the inevitable. In the end it will definitely happen – it is needed.”

In Roseacre, residents say fracking could still happen in the long term.

Bill Yates, 89, of Lodge Lane, Roseacre, said: “The thing is even if they go ahead and support this next week, Cuadrilla is likely to appeal. The Government is planning to have it.

“We’ve been told there will tens of thousands of jobs – will that happen?”

Barbara Hurton, 73, of Roseacre Road, Wharles, added: “I imagine if it is rejected next week it will go to appeal.

“I think David Cameron and the Government are very keen to have fracking. Early on before this application was even looked at he said ‘we will have fracking’ in Fylde.”

Fylde MPs: Decision ‘must be taken locally’

Fylde MP Mark Menzies said supporters and opponents of fracking had to “respect” the decision taken by Lancashire County Council when it meets next week to discuss the plans.

Mr Menzies (above) told The Gazette: “Earlier this week I made it clear that whatever the decision of the county council was on these sites, that is what we have to respect.

“This decision must be taken at a local level. If it’s a refusal, then it’s a refusal. Any attempt to appeal a decision, I wouldn’t be able to support.

“Officers have not come to this decision lightly and it’s important councillors take on board the advice they have been given.

“I cannot tell them how to vote but questions would have to be asked should officers’ advice be overturned.

“In the past week there have been two developments with regulation. The British Geological Survey said it would provide independent monitoring for sites, something I’ve been calling for.

“And the Environment Agency announced it would carry out unannounced inspections, something else I’ve been calling for four years.

“But one other thing I would like to see is an independent body of experts to look at every aspect of the process.

“I’d like the Commons Environmental Committee to look at issues such as traffic, and a process whereby people would be compensated for any fall in property prices.”

Ben Wallace, MP for Wyre and Preston North, said: “I think the county council has taken a pragmatic approach which is that we do not want to be fracking at all costs but they won’t listen to scare stories.

“They have come up with genuine reasons for the recommendation.”

“The applicant will now need to reapply and address these issues, or else it is up to the committee to take a view on them.”