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Fracking Inquiry: Week 4

CONTENTS OF THIS PAGE

DAY 12  (2 MARCH 2016)

DAY 13  (3 MARCH 2016)

Cases for Roseacre Awareness Group (RAG), and Treales Roseacre and Wharles Parish Council (TRWPC)

DAY 14 (4 MARCH 216)


Fracking Inquiry Week 4A reminder of the view from the windows of the function room at Blackpool FC where the Great Lancashire Fracking Inquiry is taking place during February and March of 2016.

This report is our account of Week 4 on the Inquiry when Friends of the Earth finish their evidence, then the community groups from Preston New Road, Roseacre Wood, and the Parish Councils get to present their evidence to the Inspector.

We've set out a framework for the potential format for all the speakers, but we suspect there will be little or nothing by way of cross examination of the community group 'Rule 6 Parties' and re-examination and we will adjust the report as the Inquiry progresses.

 DAY 12:    (2 MARCH 2016) 

Saw the usual housekeeping start made (listing documents that have been handed in as a result of questions asked during previous sessions etc). Then we moved on to....

 EVIDENCE OF MR. DAVID MCCOY (Public Health)

Mr McCoy is an accredited public health physician. He first admitted that because this was a relatively new industry there was a limited, but growing, evidence base, and much of that was from the USA. He went on to list the potential health problems, including the psychological impact.

He then spoke about a local study which he admitted was self selected in the sense that it asked for volunteers, and explained this has identified fear, anxiety, and stress, with some people having sleep deprivation and depression. He said concerns had been expressed, and the Director of Public Health had recommended that if fracking goes ahead, a baseline health survey would be needed.

He said there was evidence that fear, anxiety and other problems were evident, and in part that was because of the perception of health risk, fear of the process itself, and fear that the Government will impose it. He said Cuadrilla had tied to mitigate these things where possible, but they can't mitigate Boy George's declared intent to do it to Lancashire (Readers should note that's our phrasing of what he said, not his, but the amount to the same thing).

He agreed that risk is a subjective matter, but having considered the evidence, he thought in this instance, the concern was reasonable.

He also stressed the risk from flowback fluid which as yet may not be well understood. He also spoke in some depth about the impact of climate change on human health..

 Cross examination by Ms Lieven for Cuadrilla.

Began by saying she would not be cross examining on Climate change. We couldn't tell whether this was because the case could not be made, or whether the witness was not sufficiently well versed in the matter, or some other reason.

She then said Public Health England had made no objection to the application and they had not required any monitoring, and asked the witness to agree. He did on the first, PHE had not objected, but on the second, he said he did think they had concluded that more research was needed.

There was then a really niggly exchange between Ms Dehon an MS Lieven about the matter that is at the heart of both Cuadrilla's and FoE's arguments which (put crudely and over-simplistically) is whether the NPPF trumps the recent Ministerial Statement, or t'other way round, and Ms Lieven was trying to get Mr McCoy to agree with her. Ms Dehon had other ideas and was on her feet in a flash to say this was a planning matter and not a question for a health expert.

Ms Lieven continued unabated and said "If we start from the assumption that the Regulators will behave properly, the risk is low or non existent isn't it" The witness said yes, on that assumption, but he did not accept the assumption on which the question had been based.

Ms Dehon was on her feet again to protest at the way the questions were being asked, and the disagreement between her and Ms Lieven became more and more fractious until eventually the Inspector had to intervene to say she thought the Ms Lieven's questions would be better addressed to the Planning witness later in the day.

That said, the witness did his best to volunteer to answer Ms Lieven's question.

This was a good, solid witness, with  cool head. His tone was that of a guide rather than a leader, and he presented good arguments, clear examples, and helpful information in a measured an gentle style. That's probably why Ms Lieven was having such difficulty with him and had to resort to what we might call 'arm twisting' tactics.

We thought he was a good witness but we did hear others at the inquiry say they had hoped he would have been stronger in his condemnation because of the health risks.

Ms Lieven concluded by seeking his agreement that LCC had not cited health as a reason for refusal (He agreed), and that they had not offered evidence to the inquiry on public health (He agreed) and she asked for confirmation that LCC had not called for a baseline health study (He said LCCs heath expert had called for it and he wasn't sure whether to answer yes or no).

  Re examination by Ms Dehon for FoE  

Ms Dehon addressed three matters where she felt further clarification was needed.

 Inspectors Questions 

She asked first about the hazards  to health and Mr McCoy said the problem was that this was potentially a generational problem with pollutants, and it could take years to understand.

She then asked about the part of his evidence that spoke of the positive impacts that energy had brought and asked him too expand. He spoke of the world scale benefits that had accrued from increasing the ability of energy to the world population.

She also asked whether he was more concerned about the health problems at Roseacre rather than PNR. His answer - disappointing to PNR folk - was a 'yes, that seems to be the case based on the public health evidence'.

She also asked some questions about global climate change - and then more locally - about why he had the view that mitigation at both sites would only be partially effective, and h thought that to deal with that, there should be a comprehensive impact assessment undertaken to include both health and climate change.

 EVIDENCE OF MR. RICHARD BATE (Planning)

Gave evidence on what he said was the proper application of planning policy referenced to other witnesses.

He said that the Government won't meet its decarbonisation targets that are now set down in law without some means of carbon capture an storage coming forward, and without this (which he appeared to say does not exist at present), you can't rely on a significant gas input (of any sort) to met the nation's gas supply needs.

But the main focus of his evidence was what had been the cause of the bad tempered exchange from the last witness, and that is whether it is properly a matter for the planning application decision-taker to consider some aspects of what Ms Lieven is trying to say are exclusively the preserve of the regulatory authorities, and not anything for the inquiry to go into so far as the planning applications are concerned.

He was very firm in his views on this, and were grateful for it.

He quoted from the first sentence of the mineral and waste document which said extraction would be supported "Where it can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Mineral Planning Authority....."

And he thought that was pretty clear.

Having said that, we could imagine Ms Lieven retorting: yes but, part of that being satisfied means they must rely on the view of the regulator in order to be satisfied

We figure he expected her to say that as well - because he went on to give some further quotes and examples.

One of which was when he said the proper interpretation of the position is that in respect of say, the storage of polluted water, it is a matter for the Environment Agency to consider the gizmos on the tanks that would ensure safe storage, but it was the Mineral Planning Authority's job to look at how many tanks there would be, where they would be, and how well managed they would be and so on.

The quotes he gave left us in no doubt that it is not a clear cut black-and-white decision either way, and there are responsibilities for both bodies in the same topic.

But the clearest thing he said was that waste and pollution were without doubt planning matters, and it is job of the decision taker on the planning permission (in this case Mr Clark himself, informed  by the Inquiry's evidence, and the weight that the Inspector says should be ascribed to it)  to satisfy themselves that the necessary matters have been taken into account.

He went on to give advice about how important it might be if there was too much flowback water wanting to come up the pipe and it couldn't be dealt with. He said it seemed to him it would be substantial in terms of the size of the problem, and great in terms of the potential impact if it did go wrong (especially if the disposal may have been underestimated by a factor of four as the Inquiry heard last Friday), and you have to multiply one by the other to assess the risk.

He was then taken to the 'Ministerial Statement' we have heard so much about in the inquiry, and Ms Dehon said it didn't say it was taking over from anything else such as the NPPF of a Local plan. Mr Bate agreed and said it was a statement of where the Government wanted to go, but at the same time it recognised that the route there is constrained by eg safety, sustainability and timing amongst other things.

He also noted that the Statement dated to 16 September 2015, but since then there had been two fundamental changes. Firstly, Carbon Capture and storage has been abandoned by the Government, and there was an agreement signed in Paris which commits the UK to decarbonisation and climate change targets that are even lower than the 2% that existed before, and the new ones are 1.5% and he said this would change the position with regard to how much  gas of any sort, including shale gas, would be able to contribute to future energy needs.

As a result of this he thought the weight that should attach to the Ministerial statement should be reduced, and probably substantially reduced.

 Cross examination by Ms Lieven for Cuadrilla.

Ms Lieven went first (unsurprisingly) to her beloved Ministerial Statement, and asked the witness to agree that it said it could bring economic benefits and lower carbon use. She moved on to say it was a recent statement (Yes) and it was relevant to the topic of this inquiry (Yes).

She then took the Paris agreement first, and said there had been no statement from Government to say the position with the Statement had changed had there? (No)

The phrase 'clutching at straws' came to our mind. She was doing the best she could, but she didn't convince us we have to say, and the Inspector knows a lot more about it than we do.

She then went on to the withdrawal of the Carbon Capture and Storage funding, saying that just 7 days before the announcement of its withdrawal, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd spoke of gas generation being home grown, and given that was only 7 days before, she must have known that the withdrawal of the Carbon Capture and Storage funding was coming an it makes no difference.

The witness said it was not unknown for even Ministers to be 'hung out to dry' by the Treasury from time to time and one shouldn't assume that she knew the announcement was coming.

We tended to agree with him here, because we too have  attached "The Thick of it" where such things were quite normal.

This was a really good, firm, and confident witness and Ms Lieven was, we thought, really struggling and scraping the very bottom of the barrel to find some arguments to throw against what he said.

Sadly, we have to leave at this point because of another unavoidable appointment, but our colleague Ruth at Drill or Drop told us there was a disagreement on the treatment of flowback waste from the site. Ms Lieven said it was a matter for the regulator and capacity would be met by the market for treating waste water. Mr Bate disagreed and said it was a planning matter in case the treatment capacity was not there because it would affect the scale of transport needed and or the area required to store it on site.

There was then an argument about capacity to deal with it, with Ms Lieven saying it would use 65% of capacity in the North of England and Ms Dehon saying it was 65% of national capacity. We suspect this was nothing more than cunning wording by Ms Lieven because it is 65%, and that 65% is in the North of England. But the Inspector isn't daft, and will no doubt see the reality of the matter.

There was then a disagreement on the matter raise last Friday as to whether the volume of flowback waste was 4 times what had been suggested in Cuadrilla's Environmental Statement, and the disagreement continued today. The Inspector said she wanted the matter clearing up..

  Re examination by Ms Dehon for FoE  

Ms Dehon raised the question of whether the Environment Agency had any responsibility for Public Health.

She also sought to clarify the Ministerial statement where it spoke about shale being a 'low carbon' option. Mr Bate said he didn't think that section had any meaning in planning terms because gas could not be considered comparable to nuclear or renewable energy..

 Inspectors Questions 

The inspector wanted to know whether the UK's carbon budget should be considered when deciding whether Cuadrilla’s sites should be approved. (Yes). She also asked about the weight that should be attached to the Ministerial Statement (It should have less weight than before the Carbon Capture withdrawal was announced and the 'Paris Agreement').

 She also asked the EA leaving it to the applicant to find available waste treatment capacity. (The EA had not done a thorough analysis and it was questionable whether they thought they were supposed to it and he added that the Inspector did need to do it because the Environment Agency wasn't taking it into account.

 DAY 13   (3 MARCH 2016)

Before we start, we'd just like to thank our reader in Iceland who last night wrote to say "Just to let you know counterbalance is read in Iceland where the air and streets are clean and not sign of fracking. Good old geothermal energy."

Back to the UK and the Inquiry... Before we began the evidence, Mr Green for RAG was asking about the figures he had asked for regarding traffic. Ms Lieven had put in some additional results of the calculations but not the actual data on which they were based, and he asked for them again.

Ms Lieven said her client was unwilling to provide more than they had done because the figures were commercially confidential. Mr Green persisted The Inspector supported him, and asked for the actual figures to be provided. Ms Lieven undertook to seek further instructions.

Mr Green also asked about the traffic routing within HMS Inskip and the conflict which existed in the route shown by Mr Ojeils evidence and the Traffic Management Plan. Ms Lieven said she thought she had clarified that orally already and it was Mr Ojeil's proof that was correct.

Mr Green said "So the Traffic Management Plan is the wrong route?" There was no option but to agree, and the Inspector intervened and said she thought a corrected plan  for the Traffic Management Plan should be introduced to the Inquiry.

 EVIDENCE OF MR. K HALLIDAY (Landscape and Visual)

Mr Haliday is the Director of a Planning and Landscape consultancy. His evidence described the geography and appearance of the surrounding area and explained what he thought the problems would be.

Mr Green asked him about Cuadrilla's programme and whether there would be more than on rig on site at any time. He said yes there would, there would be concurrent drilling during flow testing, and he believed there would be 2 and perhaps 3 rigs on site at the same time. He was also asked to confirm there were no conditions limiting the number of rigs on site at any one time which he did.

 Cross examination by Ms Lieven for Cuadrilla.

Ms Lieven began by asking about the distance within which there would be 'significant'  visual affects (650-700m), and about the duration impact he had claimed of 6 years. As with other witnesses she went on to highlight the fact that there would be 2.5 years when this was the case, but she invited the witness to agree there would be 3.5 of the 6 years (when only flow testing was taking place) there would be no drilling rig and only an occasional  service rig present for a few days.

Mr Halliday agreed to an extent, but said it was not clear what would be taking place and for how long during the flow testing period, and in any event, he thought it was appropriate to consider the visual effect significant because even during flow testing this would be an industrial development that was alien to a rural farmland area.

She went on to also question his interpretation of the fencing that would be provided, and the level of lighting that would take place.

We thought this was another good, firm witness who stood up well to cross examination without being 'difficult' and although sometimes his comments (like on the 3.5 year flow testing period) may have been less strong than it appeared in his evidence, he always had a proper basis for the judgements he had made, and it was really a matter of extent - which of course is what the inspector is there for, to assess the weight to be given to various aspects of the evidence presented.

  Re examination by Mr Green for RAG  

Mr Green had only one issue for re-examination and that was the matter of lighting.

 Inspectors Questions 

The inspector asked first about screening and the views from nearby properties. She also asked about the extent to which Mr Halliday thought that conditions that might be imposed (such as planting and painting colour etc) might have on the visual impact.

To be honest we didn't exactly understand his answer, and the Inspector asked for further clarification as to why planting would not be able to offer more mitigation than he had thought it would. When it came, we thought it was a weak answer (scheme is only for 6 years and plants will only be a couple of m tall in this period)

He was then asked for his interpretation of varying levels of impact (moderate, significant and so on), and he tried, but again we thought the answers were weaker than we expected, but to be fair, we were dealing with some fairly abstract topics here.

Likewise, when the Inspector asked what weight he thought she should attach to consideration of landscape matters at all, he replied to say it fed into the planning balance, but he though it should be considered very important.

Maple Farm Nuresries signs

We publish this picture just to remind our readers that the brave and public-spirited owner of Maple Farm Nurseries and North West Tree Services is being (we're not sure whether to say prosecuted or persecuted) by Fylde Council through the Magistrates Courts for having the temerity to replace some old advertising signs on his business premises with ones that criticise the introduction of fracking close to his home

He wants to warn people of his genuine and deeply held belief that fracking threatens the future health and wellbeing of his children.

We are entirely convinced this prosecution was motivated by the content of the signs, not by the loss of visual amenity or highway safety grounds that FBC are claiming.

When threatened with court action - just before the Public Inquiry started - he removed the fixed signs. But one of our readers caught this picture on his vehicle (which is probably outside the regulatory control of FBC).

We said he was brave and Public Spirited, and counterbalance is happy to salute him.


 EVIDENCE OF MR. ED CLARKE (Noise)

Mr Clark gave his credentials, then said Cuadrilla's proposals for mitigation were based on the maximum allowable levels, not the background levels. He also said national and local policy required noise to be minimised and he did not think Cuadrilla's proposals sought to minimise it. (We thought the implication here was that they were only prepared to accept the maximum they were allowed to create in law, and were not in the business of minimising it)

He also said he was sceptical about the delivery of their mitigation objectives and concerned about the ability to properly monitor the noise levels anyway.

Mr Green asked him about noise differences between the two sites (Roseacre and PNR) and he said he thought LCC had introduced a procedural anomaly in their grounds for refusal because he thought the noise at Roseacre was actually a bigger problem for noise (We assume here he was referring to the relative background noise levels with PNR background noise being affected by the Preston - Blackpool Road which Roseacre is not)

Asked about the varying policy standards, he said in his view, the policies in relation specifically to noise on mineral sites was the policy that should have greater weight.

He was also asked about how he would approach noise mitigation. He said he thought Cuadrilla's proposals were "ad-hoc"  and went on to outline what his own approach would have been (This was more a process than a reaction)

  1. Method: Whether you can select a less noisy process to achieve the result in the first place.
  2. Equipment: where you would select low noise versions of the equipment such as pumps and other equipment and machinery.
  3. Location: Adjusting where the equipment sits within the compound and in relation to each other.
  4. Accessories: He would look at fitting noise control accessories to the equipment that was used. (ie bolt-on acoustic mitigation equipment)
  5. 'Noise Containers': Using barriers  and screening close around the site
  6. Site Barriers: Which would be the last matter to consider and this would involve large acoustic barrier fences.

We found his evidence thought-provoking and it came from an angle that was very relevant, but illustrated an approach we had not previously heard explained to the inquiry.

 Cross examination by Ms Lieven for Cuadrilla.

She said Cuadrillas noise survey was done at quietest time of night wasn't it? (Probably so, but you would need to be there for longer to establish whether that was the case).

She also spoke about the weather conditions prevailing when the survey was taken and especially that the wind direction was probably as bad a direction as there could be for getting the least noise. In response.

In reply Mr Clarke said it wasn't fair to say Cuadrilla's had been the worst way of undertaking a  survey of background noise, but it definitely wasn't the best because the sampling period was not long enough to be able to say that. Quite possibly she was right, but he couldn't agree until there was better information.

She and the witness exchanged views about which was the most appropriate published guidance regarding noise limitation. And almost immediately we were back into the familiar argument about the 42 dBA cap, whether there was a need to mitigate below this, and what constituted an unreasonable burden on the operator.

She also took issue with his contention of using background noise as the way to do it by arguing whilst that might have some relevance in the daytime, id didn't apply at night when there was hardly any background noise and results from that would be widely skewed.

She then took issue with the process that Mr Clarke had outlined and spent quite some time arguing that Cuadrilla had gone though exactly all those stages. Mr Clarke said there was no evidence to show that they had done so and without their having produced that evidence to the Inquiry it was difficult to say whether it was the case or not.

Ms Lieven got herself into a tricky situation when she started to argue about the technicalities of sound insulation for generators and Mr Clarke was saying you could probably get a generator that didn't need to be insulated because it was inherently very quiet. She asked if he thought such generators would be big and powerful enough for Cuadrilla to use and Mr Clarke said "Well, they can power a village so I would have thought so."

That brought the cross examination to a quick end we thought.

  Re examination by Mr Green for RAG  

Entirely predictably, the competent barrister for RAG and the Roseacre Parish Council asked the witness if he had seen evidence of the process Cuadrilla had used to produce their noise mitigation plan (No). Had he seen lists of the equipment that Cuadrilla planned to use? (No).

 Inspectors Questions 

The first was about how long he thought the noise survey to establish background noise should have been conducted. He said it should have probably have been over two weeks and should have been manned. It should include weekdays and weekends. He said the weather forecast should be consulted for a prediction of favourable conditions for 2 weeks before going ahead.

She also asked about the importance of a document he had cited in his evidence and a couple of other questions none of which seemed earth shattering (well maybe that isn't a very good expression for us to used here).

 EVIDENCE OF MR. TOM HASTEY (Transport and Safety)

Mr Hastey had a background in Transport Operating Management including the fire service. He seemed to us to be less ethereal and more practical than some of the witnesses we have heard.

The snag for our reporting is that almost all his evidence was based on the photographs in his evidence, so we can't report anything meaningful except to say he appeared to us to be a bluff, practical chap who clearly knew his stuff as a transport manager and from what we could follow of what he said, it was impossible for HGV's to properly negotiate the route that had been set out.

He said at one point that he did not consider that the appellant has grasped, let alone understood the issues involved.

He also said there had been a meeting between himself and the other transport experts and the inspector (This surprised us because we thought everything had to be done in public),

We were very pleased when the Inspector subsequently clarified that this discussion had taken place during the site visit and not as a separate meeting.

Mr Hastey said this meeting had become heated at times, because Mr Ojeil had insisted that HGV drivers would be able to see over the hedges at junctions and round corners, and he did not agree this was possible or appropriate.

To us he sounded very convincing, but it's difficult to convert that to our readers.

 Cross examination by Ms Lieven for Cuadrilla.

Ms Lieven began by trying ton take him from his practical comfort zone into the realms of principle, and in particular she tried to get him to

Text.

  Re examination by Mr Green for RAG  

Me Lieven suggests we don't need to worry about the junction because these are experienced HGV drivers. Does that mean the driver can control the liquid in the load (No). Do HGV drives sometimes have accidents (Yes). Do HGV drivers sometimes have rollovers (Yes).

 Inspectors Questions 

She asked a question about the reliability of the Road Safety Audit. He answered that in his opinion you couldn't so a proper and comprehensive road safety audit without going out and studying the route itself.

What are the weak areas of the Traffic Management Plan. He spoke about an assumption of not overtaking horses.

He spoke of a HGV passing with exhaust fumes from a 'drain pipe sized exhaust' passing under high engine pressure across the road. He said when the hot air hits the horses leg, even if the vehicle is in the lowest gear possible, the horse will shy and it is very unlikely that the rider will be able to stay on, and will have nowhere to go except under the wheels of the HGV.

He said, (and it was very clear to all) that this was a matter of serious and great concern to him.

She also asked about a specific junction and asked for his views on it which were that two vehicles trying to pass at that point would result in the HGV going onto the verge and rolling over in a 4 foot ditch.

Finally she asked about the unsuitability of HGV drivers relying on being able to look over hedges because of their elevated position in the cab. Because he would not see low vehicles such as low sports cars and the like. You have to be able to see along the road.

 DAY 14  (4 MARCH 2016)

Ms Lieven produced 2 new documents: one explaining the issue of the alleged erroneous flowback figures which, as we thought and as we suggested to our readers  last Friday, is because the wording in Cuadrilla's Waste Management Plan - (which was then re-quoted by the Environment Agency) - is inaccurate.

The figures are broadly correct, but the word 'site' has been omitted from one paragraph, thus one of the figures related to flowback per well, and the other to flowback per site, and because the proposals involve four wells per site one figure is 4 times the other.

We thought the fact that an error like this reached version 7 of the Waste Management Plan and it took those opposing the scheme to spot it, it didn't increase the confidence we can have in the information that has been provided.

The second document was the spreadsheet of the raw transport figures which Cuadrilla had said they would prefer not to provide, but which the Inspector formally requested be presented to the Inquiry.

 EVIDENCE OF MR. GERALD KELLS (Traffic)

Mr Kells presented his evidence in a clear and forthright manner. Notable points were his concern that have could not see how or who would be able to independently monitor the 50 vehicle movements a day that Cuadrilla were proposing.

It was also his view that the proposals did not meet the transport requirements of the NPPF. He classed the impact in would have on the Roseacre area as 'Severe'. He also drew attention to the deterioration of the road surface that the HGV's would cause, and the loss of visual amenity.

He said the mitigation proposed by Cuadrilla doesn't change the fundamental impact.

Under further questions from Mr Green he criticised the process by which Cuadrilla had undertaken its transport survey, and he gave some examples.

He said the way it had been done meant that you only had a survey of 15 minutes per day at any one point. Furthermore, it was done at the same hour of the day on each occasion, and he said for these reasons he had no confidence that the survey was representative.

He went on to say he had looked at the bus services through Clifton and cited the example of the Blackpool - Preston bus services which had three stops in Clifton, the one to Blackpool being at 6 and 36 minutes past the hour and to Preston at 18 and 48  minutes past the hour. He said if you took the 8:18 bus it was likely that children will be catching that bus to school and to do so they would e crossing the route used by Cuadrilla's vehicles, but they would not have been caught in Cuadrilla/Arup's traffic survey.

He gave other examples of pedestrian and cyclist movements he had noted, and said some of these movements had not been factored in to the survey due to the limited nature of the study, and the fact that it did not cover a wider period when people were likely to be using the road. So he did not feel it was representative.

He went on to say he thought it was in danger of misleading (though he said not intentionally so) because it could give the impression that no-one was there, when sometimes there would be.

 Cross examination by Ms Lieven for Cuadrilla.

Ms Lieven had said earlier (and it was generally agreed and understood) that to save time she was not going to cross-examine on matters which she had already covered with other witnesses, and here again she aid she would focus on points that were specific to Mr Kells evidence.

She first said it was normal for historic accident data to go back 3 to 5 years, but he had gone back 11 years. She then asked about the location of the data in his study to which he replied that 14 of the accidents were on the route in Clifton before the Westinghouse site, and 3 on Inskip Road which would be avoided by the use of the HMS Inskip site.

She made the point that they did not know whether HGV's were involved or what the nature of the accidents were. Mr Kells agreed with this contention.

She went on to say she accepted that the Arup traffic survey was time restricted. Then she asked Mr Kells whether he had done a more comprehensive survey himself (No). Well, she asked, had RAG  done their own traffic survey, after all it was relatively easy thing for local residents to do and sit by the window with a cup of tea and count who goes past, wasn't it?

We were amazed.

If she's having to scrape that low in the barrel to produce something to try to justify Cuadrilla's failure to do a proper job, it must mean there is no proper case to be made to refute what the witness had said.

He had landed solid body-blows if not a knockout punch, with his criticism of the way that Cuadrilla / Arup had described what the current traffic situation was.

We thought he gave something approaching a knockout blow when he replied to the question to say "Well, you are the people who are producing the proposals that will adversely impact on people using the highway, and I think it is incumbent on you to do the survey, not others"

He went on in response to other questions to say "The test in the NPPF is about cumulative impact. Clifton already has a problem and you're adding to it"

That looked like another heavy blow he had landed.

This was an excellent witness with a clear grasp of his topic and a breadth of view that gave us significant confidence in what he was saying.

We think it was a couple of times that, (but was at least once) that Ms Lieven could not make progress against the arguments he was advancing, and said she would have to move on to another topic because it would otherwise impact on the Inquiry's programme timetable.

To us that was an admission of her inability to present a case that would properly refute what he had said.

  Re examination by Mr Green for RAG  

Unsurprisingly given such firm, accurate and clear evidence from this witness, Mr Green had no re-examination.

 Inspectors Questions 

Her first question was about junctions and vehicles using them, and then about how accurate the data in parts of his proof was. He accepted that where he had used data from other sources he could not vouch for its accuracy and sampling, but it was what was available.

She also asked about the 14 and 3 numbers for Clifton and Inskip Road and wanted to be sure that the 3 were not included in the 14. This question suggests to us that the Inspector thought these figures were important. Finally she asked which of the actions in the traffic management would be difficult to monitor as he had suggested in his evidence.

 EVIDENCE OF ELIZABETH WARNER (Residents Perspective)

Spoke in a very clear and cogent manner to explain what RAG is, how it came about and what it's concerns are. She spoke of the high personal cost to those involved and the effort and cost that had been needed to take part in the inquiry.

She said their presence as a rule 6 party "represents the accumulated will of the community"  She said she could not speak for the whole of the Fylde community but she did speak for the people of Roseacre who supported RAG.

She said they had looked in detail at the proposals and were of the view that they will change the character and appearance of the countryside.

She said the creation of an industrial site was unacceptable in an area that takes its value in both economic and social terms, from reliance on empathetic developments. They were also concerned about collateral damage in the property market, especially were property fails to attract potential buyers.

She added some further comments in response to questions from Mr Green. Notable amongst these was the fact that RAG simply could not afford to pay for a better study of existing traffic levels. She also pointed out the disingenuous technique of trying to ameliorate the impact of the additional HGV's over the period of the application.

She said this was typical of what they had found to be the Arup methodology which she said had been "to view everything from your end of  the telescope and to make the conclusions fit a pre-determined outcome."

 Cross examination by Ms Lieven for Cuadrilla.

Ms Lieven said she understood and accepted the genuine concern expressed by RAG, but she did not intend to cross examine because the issues raised had been covered in other cross examinations already.

There was no re-examination from Mr Green.

 Inspectors Questions 

The inspector first asked if the Government was committed to strategic development of shale gas, where did Mrs Warner say it should go?

This was neatly (and properly) sidestepped by an answer that said RAG had constrained itself to looking at this site, not the impact of shale gas development more widely. We thought that was a good and proper answer.

 EVIDENCE OF BARBARA RICHARDSON (Community Amenity Recreation)

Roseacre resident and opposite to the proposed site. She described Roseacre and the surrounding area and its inhabitants. Said the site was halfway between the two main communities.

Believes the appellant has underestimated the amenity value of the area. Spoke of the DEFRA report on rural impacts. Spoke of the numbers of cycling clubs and riding stables that use this area for recreation.

At this point she presented additional map documents to the inquiry showing footpaths and riding stables in the area, and listed several social / sporting events (organised cycle rides and half marathons etc) together with other informal recreational uses which were under threat by these proposals.

 Cross examination by Ms Lieven for Cuadrilla.

Only two issues. Raised concern about impact on property prices and insurance. Said these are not planning matters and would not normally cross examine on them but are of great interest to the community. Brought two documents to the attention to the Inquiry addressing these issues.

These said an examination of the land registry data round Elswick and Preese Hall and there was no change in house prices attributable to shale gas.

Mrs Richardson said this was old data and they had evidence of lost property sales that would be presented to the inquiry in the public session.

On Insurance, she said if Cuadrilla's activity can be proved to be the cause, Cuadrilla have insurance to cover it.

Mrs Richardson drew attention to residents who are still arguing with Cuadrilla about damage caused from explosions during the seismic testing some years ago..

  Re examination by Mr Green for RAG  

There was none.


The afternoon session cointinued with one more witness for RAG, by sadly, this is another of those days when a prior engagement intruded into the day, and we could only stay until lunchtime.

For the afternoon's proceedings, readers might like to visit our colleague Ruth Hayhurst's website 'Drill or Drop

Dated:  4 March 2016


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