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Roseacre Rout

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And with our last article, we noted that a meeting of Fylde's Planning Committee was to take place at Kirkham on 18 January 2018.

The meeting was to consider Fylde's response to a LCC consultation on Cuadrilla's new proposals to overcome the refusal of planning permission recommended by Planning Inspector Wendy McKay at the Public Inquiry into fracking held in Blackpool in 2017.

When Local Government Minister Sajeed Javid got her report, he thought Cuadrilla might be able to overcome the highway problems and, (some folk thought rather overly-generously), he gave them another chance to show how they could do so.

Implicit in his question was the prospect of his overruling the previous Inspector's objections if highway matters could be satisfied.

He decided that the best way would be for Cuadrilla to come up with some new proposals and if they did, he would 're-open' the previous inquiry to consider them.

But this time it would have a different inspector - (yes really), and that inquiry would consider Cuadrilla's new proposals for highway arrangements.

Cuadrilla said they would do this. A whole new public inquiry has been arranged, and is expected to take place over three weeks from 10th to 27th April this year.

We reported the details of the slightly contentious pre-inquiry hearing that took place last October - on the rather notable date of 'Halloween' when, supposedly, the barriers between our world and the next became thin and porous, allowing spirits to pass through;  to come back to life so to speak.

Commenting on the date last October, we said it seemed entirely appropriate for the spirits of the 'Inquiry Past' to pass through time, and reassemble once more to do battle for the soul of Fylde's green and pleasant countryside.

Readers can follow this link for our report of that Pre-Inquiry Hearing

But this week's meeting of Fylde Council's Planning Committee turned into something of a rout for Cuadrilla's new plans - as we shall see.......

SYNOPSIS
First we have  quick Introduction to the article, before looking at Cuadrilla's New traffic proposals in outline.

We then take a short look at The Committee report that was sent to Councillors before we report what went on at The Planning Meeting itself, beginning with the Public Platform speakers including: .Jules Burden; Gillian Cookson; Miranda Cox; Roy Harrison; Keith Hulme; Barbara Hurton; James Nisbett; Barbara Richardson; and (in our view) the STAR speaker of the day: Elaine Smith; Barry Warner; Jacqueline Sylvester; Jane Barnes; Nicholas Thorne; Barbara Fish and Mrs Bignall.

We then look at the Comments of Fylde's Chief Planning Officer, before reporting the Planning Committee's debate, by Cllrs: Heather Speak; Liz Oades; Neil Harvey; Kiran Mulholland and Linda Nulty.

Then, with a quick note of the List  of the Parish Councils who have objected, we ask So What Happens Now" and provide our own view of that.

 INTRODUCTION

Lancashire County Council is the local planning authority for mineral extraction and for public highways, so they will come to a decision about the new routes and present that evidence to the Inquiry, but because it is in Fylde Borough, they have a responsibility to consult FBC and seek their view of the new proposals.

They did so and Fylde's Planning Committee met in Kirkham Community Centre on 1 January to consider what comments they should send to LCC.

 THE NEW PROPOSALS IN OUTLINE

There are a lot of documents that we could review at this point, but they will be rehearsed in detail at the Inquiry so we plan to leave the detailed exposition until then. But cutting to the chase at this time, the main thing our readers will want to know is what the new routes are.

The graphic below gives an idea, but clicking the graphic will bring up a bigger picture which is easier to understand.

Cuadrilla's new routes

The black lines (where blue, red, and green lines meet) are the track that leads down to Roseacre Wood, and the adjacent proposed fracking site.

Briefly, the 'Blue' line represents the original route that caused the first Planning Inspector to refuse permission. The Red line and the Green line show proposed additional routes that could be used.

Fundamentally, the plan is to dilute the traffic problems on the blue route by allowing some traffic to go on either the red or green route.

The plan is that traffic to the Roseacre Wood Site would use either:

1). The Blue Route

Leave the M55 at the Kirkham Turn off. Past the old Fairfield Horticultural station, past ALDI and the new AFC development.

Bear right at the roundabout onto the 'Kirkham Bypass' and follow that to the Ribby Hall Roundabout, where you turn left, making toward Preston.

Go past the Bell and Bottle, Dobbies and the first turning into Clifton Village. But then turn left off the Blackpool Preston Road (A583) at the second Clifton junction (between the Lea Gate pub and Preston Caravans).

Then drive north through Clifton village, past what is now Westinghouse (Salwick/BNFL) up to the Hand and Dagger.

Turn left at the Hand and Dagger, then immediately right and over the motorway, past Memory Lane Tea Rooms at Hale Hall Farm.

Then turn (unexpectedly) RIGHT at the T junction for a short distance - to the edge of the land within the boundary of HMS Nightjar (formerly HMS Inskip) where you turn left and follow the boundary just inside the military site (because the Secretary of State for Defence has now said they can go through the military land) until it is more or less opposite the trackway to Roseacre Wood and the proposed test fracking site. (Leaving the site would be the reverse of this route)

2). The Red and Green Routes

The first parts of the 'green' and 'red' routes share a common path. They both leave the M55 at the Kirkham turn off, but go North on the A585, making toward Fleetwood.

Go past the site of the (former) Blue Anchor Pub, the Shell garage and various farms and homes, then past Thistleton Lodge and along to the junction that some used to know as hellfire corner, where the Mile Straight from Singleton joins the A585 we are on.

Just before that, turn right toward Thistleton village, then take the first left making for Elswick, round all the bends, then past the former post office and the Ship Inn up to the junction with the Northern end of Roseacre Road.

At this point the green and red routes split.

The Green route turns right down Roseacre Road, past the Village Hall and sports grounds, past the Bluebell wood and Saswick House tea rooms and farm shop, then on through the winding country lanes until the track to Roseacre Wood is reached from the opposite direction that the Blue route arrives at it.

The Red Route passes the northern end of Roseacre Road and along Lodge Lane past the oldest church in the Fylde, past Direct Poultry and onto Inskip village where it follows the road round the sharp right bend and onward to the Derby Arms (former famous Motoring Inn)

At the derby Arms it turns right past the military base at 'HMS Inskip' until it joins the Blue route at the junction with the road to 'Memory Lane' tea rooms and onward through HMS Nightjar to Roseacre Wood. Again, traffic would leave in the reverse of this route.

To be able to get the biggest articulated lorries that are allowed on UK roads (6 axle, 44 tonners) along the country lanes, Cuadrilla are proposing to build a series of new passing places, and to install some temporary traffic lights on a section of Dagger Road that is too narrow for two lorries to pass each other.

Cuadrilla say they will not have more than 25 HGVs in and out an any one day and there would be no HGVs at weekends or on public holidays unless there is an emergency or if such use has been agreed in advance with the police.

 THE PLANNING COMMITTEE REPORT

In advance of the meeting, the Council (as usual) published its agenda report for the meeting. We've no doubt there was a lot of relief around the Fylde countryside when it became known that Fylde's officers were recommending the Council to object.

Fylde's officer report notes that it is a County matter, and LCC will consult parish councils separately from this consultation to Fylde. It sets out the policies in the existing and emerging Fylde local plans and the County Council's own policies. It also lists the main headings of the Environmental Impact Assessment that has been undertaken.

It then notes that the decision will turn on whether the access arrangements that are now proposed are sufficient to overcome the concerns expressed by the previous planning inspector.

It concludes that the construction of the passing places would not be significantly detrimental in either a visual, character, or amenity sense, but it then goes on to highlight concerns about what it calls 'vulnerable road users' (we think this means pedestrians, cyclists, and horses and cows and so on).

The report is also very strong on the fact that in a lot of places, the HGVs would have to drive on the wrong side of the road to get round some of the bends, let alone the road junctions.

It also expresses concern about the turning into Thistleton village  from the A585, saying it is a junction that is of concern to Highways England..

Taken altogether, Fylde's officers recommendation to the Council is that matters of highway safety have not been adequately addressed.

 THE PLANNING COMMITTEE MEETING

And so to Kirkham's Community Centre at the top of the big free car park up the hill from Morrisons, where a hundred or so local residents had gathered in the public gallery to hear what went on.

We arrived half an hour before the start, and it was already busy. We recognised quite a few of the folk there from the previous inquiry. Chairing the meeting was the mercurial Cllr Trevor Fiddler assisted by his Vice Chairman Cllr Richard Redcliffe. Other members of the Committee were Cllrs: Christine Akeroyd, Jan Barker, Michael Cornah, Neil Harvey, Kiran Mulholland, Linda Nulty, Liz Oades, Heather Speak and Ray Thomas.

Cllr Heather Speak declared a personal interest in the item (which means she may stay and take part in the debate and vote). We suspect this declaration was because she lives quite close to the proposed site.

As he opened the meeting, the Chairman said after the first Inquiry, the Secretary of State was minded to allow the appeal and grant planning permission. However, before he did, he wanted the opportunity to explore highway traffic issues that were identified by the (first) appeal Inspector. Cuadrilla were to and had submitted a revised transport scheme to the County Council, and this afternoon, the Borough was being consulted by the County Council for their view as to whether or not the amended transport scheme is an acceptable solution.

He said the afternoon was simply for the Committee to give their views on the proposed highway and traffic issues.

He then asked the Chief Planning Officer to give a very brief overview of the issues. Mr Evans did so, emphasising that the meeting would *only* be considering the highway and transport issues. It was not an opportunity to re-open any of the other issues concerning the application.

The Chairman then moved on to the 'Public Platform' where about 17 local people had asked to address the Committee about the revised plans.

The Vice Chairman generally runs the Public Platform' and he did his usual introduction, explaining the three minute limit for each speaker.

 THE 'PUBLIC PLATFORM'

It wasn't always possible to hear the names of the speakers clearly, and for some we could only catch part of their name, so they are set out phonetically below, with apologies for those containing spelling errors or only part names. That caveat said, the first to speak was:

 JULES BURDEN

Had lived in Roseacre for 18 years and had considerable experience of the rural lanes. He criticised the plan as trying to force a square peg into a round hole and said he would concentrate on the health and safety implications of the increased traffic.

He noted Cuadrilla had has a full year of practical operational highway and traffic experience based on their of work at the Preston New Road site, and he said they should have been able to use that actual and accurate data for their traffic management assessment. But he said the OGV [Ordinary Goods Vehicle] figures they'd used were not those actual traffic movements, adding

"Their entire application is still based upon their original estimates. The true figures reveal an increase of 59% in OGV movements and a 62% increase in the duration of those movements, over and above their estimates."

He went on to explain some of the vulnerable road users who regularly used the rural lanes including children walking to or from school, cyclists, horses, mobility scooter riders who have to use the highway because there are no pavements, and so on.

He said a big part of their revised plan involved the formation of 39 passing places, (each 35m long), meant that a total of 1.4km of existing verge and hedge would have to be removed. He asked the committee to refuse the application.

 GILLIAN COOKSON

Treales resident with a family of cyclists and members of Club Springfields and they use the lanes to ride for their health and wellbeing, training, and competitions.

She said there were 35 other clubs with over 2,500 members who regularly used the roads and lanes. For example, Blackpool Clarion Club had over 600 members who ride on these lanes 2 to 3 times a week in winter and nearly every day in the summer. Lancashire Cycle link had over 1000 members.

She said several parts of the proposed rout form part of the Lancashire Cycle route and last year over 40 organised cycle events were held on these roads. She gave several other examples of use by cyclists and said the growing number of cafes springing up was partly due to the presence of cyclists.

She said they were frequently forced to ride nearer to the centre of the road because the road edges had been eroded by traffic and repairs had not been sufficient. She said they had to pull out unexpectedly, if they saw a pothole or an area of flooding, which happened often in winter. adding

"You can't ride through a puddle because you simply don't know what's underneath".

She said the plans did noting to protect vulnerable road users and experience from the PNR site showed that this company did not operate within set parameters. Conditions had been breached on many occasions.

Furthermore she said these were only called 'Preferred Routes' and experience from the Preston New Road site has shown that HGV drivers would use any route to get where they want to get, and she thought that all the roads leading to Roseacre Wood would be used by HGVs.

She urged the committee to support the officers to keep her and her family and fellow cyclists safe by objecting to the proposals.

 MIRANDA COX

Said she wanted to speak about the 'culture of risk' she and others had experienced on the Preston New Road site. She said the traffic management plan for Preston New road had been rewritten 12 times in as many months, and each variation had been to assist Cuadrilla, not the residents.

Based on experience she said the HGVs would add considerably to local traffic and, speaking from experience she said she knew that some HGVs would go through Preston.

She said Cuadrilla had under-estimated the number of vehicles required at Preston New Road and had exceeded its commitment over 20 times to date. In December she had counted 50 vehicle movements in one day just to transport water.

We suspect this was the need to tanker away the 'flooding' water from the site which arose as a result of the installation of an impervious membrane set in protective 'felt' layers below the stone carpet, which itself forms the surface of the large wellpad compound area.

The membrane is there to prevent contamination of the surrounding and underlying land by leakage from the site.

The water is supposed to collect in a ditch at one side of the site and either evaporate or be tankered away according to need, but the pad area is so large, and the basin so relatively shallow that periods of heavy rain cause the whole site to flood to several inches deep, and the water must be tankered away before it overflows onto adjacent land.

We find it surprising that no-one seems to have thought that this sort of thing might happen if you create lake forming conditions within a two-football-pitched-sized area of stone.

And because of the lack of foresight here, Cuadrilla has had to apply for yet another variation of its permission so it can pipe the water, at natural field drainage rates, to a nearby brook, after self-testing that there is nothing harmful in it.

We suspect the (useless) Environment Agency is likely to agree to this variation. They regularly use their 'Environmental Permitting Regulations' to allow all sorts of pollution to take place, (often in advance of the pollution happening).

But if they do permit this drainage here, and it is piped into the brook/drain, (which - apart from a slowly porous clay bottom - does not have an impervious lining layer of course), it makes us wonder why Cuadrilla bothered with the impermeable layer in the first place - unless it was simply to be able to test the water before it gets into the ground.

We've digressed again! (as usual). Back at the Public Platform.......

Ms Cox said the number of breaches, accidents, and poor traffic management at the Preston New Road site had convinced her that a culture of risk existed, and that was not acceptable to the local community.

Drivers were often not local and security site at the staff had authority to re-direct traffic. Lorries had parked on the road and car parks nearby whilst waiting to access the site, and if that happened at Roseacre there would be no car parks for them to use and the roads would be blocked.

 ROY HARRISON

Said that although the Wharles Village route was only to be considered only for the extended flow testing phase, a caveat of 'when operational needs demand' would result in the contractor making any excuse he would like to make to use the Wharles route rather than go across the Inskip route. He said if this proposal was approved there would be a severe and dangerous impact on highway safety for all road users and in particular for vulnerable road users because it would result in many more large goods vehicles using the roads.

He said the roads were not built to withstand the pummelling they would receive from significant numbers of 44 tonne, 54 feet long OGV 2 articulated vehicles.

 KEITH HULME

Resident of Roseacre Road, he objected in the strongest possible terms to the revised transport proposals. He frequently used Roseacre Rd as a car driver, cyclist and pedestrian. He said even the existing large farm vehicles can be very intimidating to cyclists and pedestrians, and that would be a lot worse with the prospect of up to a 10-fold increase in large HGVs.

He said the proposed mitigation for Roseacre Road was 16 passing places in a 2.5k stretch of road. It was appalling and would necessitate extensive hedgerow removal.

Tellingly, we thought, he said:

"The fact of proposing multiple routes to the site at Roseacre Wood demonstrates that there is no single suitable access route. The proposal includes scenarios where ALL of the large HGV's could travel on a single route, including the route assessed by the initial public inquiry Inspector as being unacceptable because of safety issues, a view endorsed by the Secretary of State."

He said the survey of pedestrians was totally unrepresentative of the stretch of road between Roseacre and Elswick. The only monitoring position chosen was located just North of Wharles village, which could not detect any pedestrians from Roseacre or (unclear- Elswick Lees?) walking toward Elswick - the obvious direction for local shops or a public house. Dog walkers use this road on a daily, or sometimes twice daily, basis. He went on to evidence calculations of the percentage encounters with HGV's that would take place.

 BARBARA HURTON

Lives in Wharles and uses the roads regularly for the last 27 years. Horrified at the idea of such large vehicles being used on the roads that have blind bends, narrow carriageways and narrow verges. Spoke of the dangers for people with pushchairs for example.

Also spoke of animals being shepherded along the roads from one field to another creating further conflict and danger and the fact that the large lorries could in theory go at 50 mph and stay within the law. She said the slipstream from a lorry or even a van is frightening and dangerous.

 JAMES NISBETT

Said three routes were now being proposed, two of which had previously been deemed unsuitable. He thought the monitoring undertaken was not adequate. He also said the documentation says permission to use the military site for access could be withdrawn at the instigation of the Ministry of Defence, and without notice.

He also gave examples of what he thought was Cuadrilla seeking to use the new arrangements to introduce changes to what had previously been agreed, and thought that should not be allowed.

He thought the need for 39 passing places on the three routes was evidence that none of the routes was suitable

 BARBARA RICHARDSON

Chair of the Roseacre Awareness Group, spoke about community, recreation and amenity at the previous inquiry and wanted to address the same topics in relation to highways now. She said:

"Cuadrilla's revised plans do absolutely nothing to mitigate the risks, and will actually impact far more communities and vulnerable road users.

The company has failed to understand completely the nature of our rural roads and the communities that live there and use them. Without doubt, these proposals will put our general public at risk.

This is not *if* an accident is going to happen, it's *when*  - and who's going to be responsible when that happens? Is it going to be the driver of the vehicle? Is it going to be Lancashire County Council? is it going to be Cuadrilla? Is it going to be our elected representatives? Just who is responsible for the public's safety?

Mark Menzies our MP, has already objected to these proposals every step of the way",

She read and reported his words on this matter as being:

"I do not believe that the HGV traffic concerns can be addressed at the site. The company's proposals simply cannot be reconciled with the quiet rural roads and the service access to the shale gas site. I am therefore clear that Cuadrilla Resources proposed Roseacre Wood site must not be permitted to go ahead. There are no circumstances under which it can mitigate against the unacceptable hazard that the introduction of such large HGVs will present to our rural road users."

Mrs Richardson said

"Strong words indeed, I think."

She went on to say that 5,000 people live within 4 Km of the site, and 27,000 people live within 9 Km, and all these communities will be impacted by the proposals. There were farm shops, cafes, tea rooms, rural businesses, caravan and camping sites, public houses, village stores, and at least three public schools actually on the routes. There were more than 60 livery yards and stables, 678 heritage assets, school bus routes, churches, primary community centres at Elswick and Clifton, wildlife gardens and public parks with children's play areas adjoining the route.

She urged the committee to put public safety first and object to the proposals.

We thought Mrs Richardson's own comments were strong, (as well as her quote from Mr Menzies). But in fact, that's not the only issue about the shale gas proposals that Mr Menzies has recently taken up on behalf of his constituents.

Late last year, we became aware that Mrs Richardson had been to see Mr Menzies to update him on the latest situation. We understand Mrs Richardson raised two main issues with him.

Firstly the forthcoming Roseacre highways and transport appeal (the result of which we can see above), and secondly the matter of the number and density of shale gas sites that could arise in Fylde if the current tests are successful.

We subsequently became aware that Mr Menzies had taken that second concern to the Minister responsible, saying he thought legislation should be brought forward to set a clear limit on the number of shale gas sites that were permitted in areas. We understand he also asked the Minister to look at introducing statutory provisions that expressly prevent the proliferation of shale gas sites in close proximity to one another.

He made this matter public in last week's Express, when he said:

"I objected to the Roseacre Wood site in the first instance, and have done so again ahead of this appeal.

The roads are simply unsuitable for the level of traffic necessary for that site, regardless of the mitigation offered.

This is part of the ongoing dialogue I have with the Government over shale gas; last year I questioned the Government more than any other MP or Lord on the matter and I will continue to raise issues on behalf of my constituents to ensure we get the best regulatory regime in place, should a shale gas industry go ahead.

I also wrote to the Government asking for regulations to be put in place to limit the number of shale gas well sites that can be placed in an area.

Lancashire County Council, the planning authority on shale gas for Fylde, is able to set the distance of separation between sites through existing planning laws. We need to see stringent rules put in place by the county authority to govern the number of sites allowed."

Again, we hear strong words from our MP to try to secure some protection for Fylde residents and it's clear Mrs Richardson's discussion with him has borne fruit.

We thought Mrs Richardson's presentation to the Planning Committee was impressive. But in our view, it was eclipsed by the next speaker, which we now reproduce verbatim......

 ELAINE SMITH

We know something of this lady because she spoke at the former inquiry.

We heard her tell the first inquiry she holds a professional Tourism qualification and, having heard her speak on that matter before, we know she is worth listening to. She said:

"In the Fylde Borough Council's tourism brochure entitled 'Lytham St Annes and the Fylde Countryside' there's a quote from the Royal Horticultural Society which says ' It's one of the greenest, cleanest, most beautiful places in Britain.'

Wow!

But, with Cuadrilla's traffic proposals, the Fylde countryside is going to have hundreds of HGVs spluttering their emissions along its country lanes, and it would not be the greenest, cleanest, most beautiful place.

In the chapter on Fylde Countryside, it says: 'Escape the pressures of daily life, and be enchanted by the unspoilt villages and the scenery.'

But with juggernauts and convoys choking the rural lanes, these villages would *not* be unspoilt, and the scenery would *not* be enchanting.

The brochure also says 'Enjoy a little peace and quiet, and reacquaint yourself with some of the simpler pleasures in life, with a stroll, cycle ride, or a picnic'

Relax in FyldeBut with industrial vehicles thundering along narrow lanes, there wouldn't *be* any peace or quiet.

People would *not* enjoy a stroll or a cycle ride, when faced with HGV's heading straight for them - *because they take up the whole of the lane*

The chapter ends with 'Why not delve into the Fylde Countryside, and see what delights await you'"

At this point the whole room was in fits of laughter at the completely ludicrous set of contrasting pictures that the Council was, impossibly,  trying to reconcile. It was an absolutely brilliant oration and it hit home. Hard. She continued.....

"If these plans are approved there will be no delight awaiting us, no reason to visit, and no Fylde Countryside to feature in the tourism brochure.

The Tourism Department say 'Rural Fylde provides a contrast to the coast, with countryside pursuits of walking cycling, horse riding, and boating on the canals.' It says 'The rich heritage of its towns and villages has helped to make the Fylde Countryside a destination in its own right.

Three million visitors come to the Fylde every year. Three-quarters are day-trippers who visit the seaside towns and the picturesque rural villages.'

Cuadrilla's plans will ruin rural Fylde as a tourist destination, and adversely and unacceptably impact the amenity, health and wellbeing, and the safety of all the people who live, visit or travel through the area.

Cuadrilla's plans conflict with the planning policies which are to protect the character and beauty of the countryside; support the rural communities; and conserve the natural environment.

Say no to Cuadrilla's proposals and protect rural Fylde"

Her presentation was (deservedly) followed by thunderous applause from the floor.

Just occasionally, Fylde's Public Platform produces three minutes of dynamite from a speaker with conviction. And, in this case, we do not think it would be too far from reality, to compare her three minutes with some of the Churchillian speeches we have had the pleasure to hear.

We were delighted to have been present to hear her.

 Next was....

 BARRY WARNER

Worked as a Health and Safety Manager for a large multi-national company before retirement. He said he had formal qualifications, and is qualified to train other people on health and safety. This gave him both a personal interest and a professional one.

He said that professionally, he was less than impressed, and that was actually an understatement. He said

"...words like poor, shoddy, inadequate and appalling come to mind. Now if I'd produced this document, the Director would take me to one side and he would have said - 'What's wrong, are you ill?' Have you lost the plot?' and then he would have said to me 'Take it away and don't come back until you've done it properly'

And that is exactly the response that you should have."

He said the document looked fantastic, was glossy, with pictures and tables and so on, but actually it was like having a fancy meal in a posh restaurant that tasted like sawdust, adding that this document was sawdust. By way of justification he went on to say...

"The conclusions don't follow the facts, the logic is perverse - it often comes to exactly the opposite conclusion that facts suggest. It tries to pass of assertions as facts. Some of the conclusions appear to come out of thin air. The language is loaded, it is not objective. It's not comprehensive. It leaves things out - whether by design or carelessness. It's not systematic. It makes commitments it's not in a position to make. It ignores reality and makes assumptions based on an idealised world. It produces caveats that invalidate the commitments. It gives commitments and assurances that are inconsistent with previous performance.

It produces data that is simply not credible, simply not credible. I'm not saying they've made it up, but I suspect they've collected it in a less than robust manner. It fails to give methodology. The document is very vague in places. It doesn't address previous criticisms, and some of it is wrong. Not morally wrong, not logically wrong, just factually wrong, and they should get themselves a better proof reader.

And how can it be so bad? Because they have worked backwards. The consultants knew what they had to do, and they've done it.

It's fantastic persuasive writing but it's not good health and safety."

More applause, and another devastating critique.

 JACQUELINE SYLVESTER

Councillor on Treales, Wharles and Roseacre Parish Council. Said none of the routes through Treales Roseacre and Wharles are safe, and there were other matters not brought out in Cuadrilla's assessments. The proposals would allow up to 50 HGVs through Wharles village on any day or night of the week, and this ability applies to any of the three routes they propose, adding:

"Don't forget that ALL these routes have been rejected by Cuadrilla's own traffic experts or the Secretary of State."

She said that although peak traffic flows indicate 50 HGV movements per day for 12 weeks, flows of over 40 HGV movements will carry on for many months over the whole duration of the lifetime of the site.

She added they now had the experience of Cuadrilla's multiple failure to comply with the planning conditions said to make the unacceptable development acceptable at Preston New Road. They also had experience of Lancashire County Council's inability to effectively control Cuadrilla to prevent the breaches of these conditions set out by the Secretary of State. Cuadrilla had exceeded the 50 movements a day on at least 15 adding that:

"On one occurrence, the daily movements were 90, yes, nine zero per day. Also in the two months 115 vehicles did not access the PNR site in the correct manner. Lancashire County Council failed to prevent ANY of this, making the application of any conditions totally unacceptable and unsafe."

".... We respectfully ask that you vote your objection to the unacceptability of this latest submission by Cuadrilla because it fails to provide safe and suitable access for all the road users like you and me, and all those we care for."

 JANE BARNES

(Read in her absence by Elaine Smith)

A pony rider and dog walker along the parish roads. Wanted to focus on the importance of these roads for horse riders. The 'Happy Hackers' are people who ride purely for pleasure and enjoyment. The competitive riders, to harden tendons in their horses legs to prevent injury when galloping on hard ground in the summer. The endurance riders cover many miles in preparation for their 10 to 25 mile rides.

The roads are vital for the 200+ local horses and riders. These are the same roads which Cuadrilla has chosen as their routes to Roseacre Wood. She spoke of government acknowledgement that country roads were the most dangerous of all, and gave horse riding fatality statistics so justify that claim, adding that she could not avoid Cuadrilla's chosen routes because of where she lived and some of the roads were not wide enough for HGV's to pass her safely.

She said Cuadrilla's traffic would cause current road users to find alternative routes across the Fylde and there would be no safe horse routes remaining.

 NICHOLAS THORNE

A Freckleton resident who wanted to broaden the issues because the proposals affected not just users of the rural roads, but road users and properties all the way back to the M55.

In particular he spoke of a junction he frequently used - the A583 - where vehicles would be exiting Lodge Lane through Clifton village. It was suggested that trucks returning to the motorway would be turning right toward the West and Kirkham, but thus was a particularly bad manoeuvre, and because of this, he thought that many drivers would therefore choose to go through Preston and or Freckleton, and the inherent risks that that involves.

 BARBARA FISH

For the last 40+ years she has owned, bred, and ridden horses. She said horses and ponies were quiet animals and easily startled by noise. They naturally gravitate to open space and see the road ahead as their only safe option. She also gave fatal and other accident statistics involving horses to emphasise her points.

She said the main cause of the accidents involving horses is due to the horses not being given enough space by drivers when passing. Horses needed at least 1.5m when riding alone, and 3.5m when riding two abreast (which, she said was both allowed, and recommended, on country lanes), adding that the average HGV is 2.5m wide, but the lanes in the plan are, on average, only 6m wide.

She said horses spooking in fear travel at 54 mph sideways on 0.65 seconds as tracked by GPS. A HGV travelling at 30mph in dry conditions on a straight road takes 23m to stop. Approaching a horse that has been spooked by something in a hedgerow travelling sideways into the path of a HGV at 54 mph in a split second, the driver reaction and stopping distance will result in death.

 MRS BIGNALL

Spoke of the fear induced by large vehicles for pedestrians. Footpaths where they exist are often not wide enough to permit her and her dog to walk side by side. She disagreed with conclusions that said the vehicles would not intimidate and frighten pedestrians, and she asked for the application to be rejected.

That concluded the Public Platform. Both the Chairman and the Vice Chairman congratulated and thanked the speakers on a very professional, well timed and cogent presentations without repetition. It was then time for the officers report.

 CHIEF PLANNING OFFICER PRESENTATION

He noted that the Committee had toured the routes recently and had understood the circumstances. He noted the comments about experiences at Preston New Road, but officers had only focused on the plan submitted by Cuadrilla, and had taken those comments at face value. (i.e. they had not taken breaches of previous planning conditions into account).

He gave a moderately detailed summary of Cuadrilla's proposals, before looking at and describing (with the aid of en-route photographs) each of the routes, and noted that HGVs already used the route from the A583 to Westinghouse (formerly Springfields/BANFF) but he noted that the main problems with narrowing came after this.

He also noted that the junction from the A 585 toward Thistleton was one which he knew Highways England had concerns about, and that the route from there to the crossroads in Elswick had the potential for twice as much traffic because it was shared for that length by the red and green routes.

He said his personal assessment of the red and green routes was that, if anything, he considered them to be worse than the blue route in terms of their alignments. He noted that the report he wrote was produced before the receipt of advice from Neil Stevens, LCC's Highway and Traffic expert, but that had since been received.

In what to some might seem a rather incestuous circle, LCC (planning) had consulted FBC (planning) for their view, and FBC (planning) had asked the LCC (highways) expert for *his* view to help inform their own view.

Although this might seem odd to some, it is a widespread practice.

He quoted sections of Mr Steven's nine page advice note, and gave the full conclusions and recommendation, saying

"I consider the Traffic Management Plan does not overcome the impacts that result from this proposal on the surrounding rural network and rural settlements.

I consider that further information is required with regard to a number of elements of the appellant's latest submitted Transport and Highway documentation.

In regard to accidents and safety, further information has been provided. However, with consideration for the local network in the vicinity of the site, the expected increase in particular of HGV movements, the narrow rural lanes, location of public rights of way, cycle routes and Equestrian activity, I consider there are significant potential safety concerns that would have a material impact on safety on this part of the network if the application was approved as presented.

In regards to the Impact on Vulnerable Road users, Cyclists, Pedestrians, Equestrians, there is an extensive network of PROW on the local network in the vicinity of the site and on the proposed inbound and outbound access routes. There is limited footway provision on this local network.

Surveys have shown that there are a high number of cyclist observed on the local network. The very narrow nature of the lanes on the routes in the local vicinity of the site would suggest that there will be a material impact on vulnerable road users (both familiar and unfamiliar) as a result of the additional traffic and in particular the impact due to a significant increase in the numbers of HGV movements expected.

Recommendation

With consideration for all the latest information provided by the applicant in support of the application, including the additional routing proposals, I consider that the impact of the increase in traffic, particularly HGV movements would be severe. There would be a material impact on existing road users, particularly vulnerable road users and overall highway safety of which the potential is considered severe and therefore I am unable to support this application and would therefore recommend refusal.

Paragraph 32 of the NPPF requires that all developments that generate significant volumes of traffic should ensure that safe and suitable access to the site can be achieved for all people. In addition it requires that decisions should take account of whether improvements can be undertaken within the transport network that cost effectively limit the significant impacts of the development. Developments should only be refused on transport grounds where the residual cumulative impacts of development are severe. I consider this paragraph has not been satisfied."

That is a pretty solid expression saying that what Cuadrilla has proposed is not acceptable. Readers can follow this link to see a full copy of Mr Steven's Report.

Fylde's Mr Evans turned to his own recommendation to Fylde's Planning Committee and gave an outline of what he thought it should be.

 THE PLANNING COMMITTEE DEBATE

The Chairman said they he did not anticipate anyone speaking in favour of the application, because he didn't remember ever having been at a planning meeting where everyone seemed to be singing from the same hymn sheet, and he would be grateful if councillors would avoid repetition.

There were on or two questions, one which sought and received confirmation that the routes were the same both to, and away from, the site, and another about whether they shouldn't have taken account of breaches of conditions at the PNR site. The officer said he had chosen not to, but Mr Stevens had made some comment about them.

The officer also explained something of the extent by which vehicles would have to move to the 'wrong' side of the road in order to negotiate many of the bends and turns.

 Cllr Heather Speak

Is the Ward Councillor. Picking up on what Mrs Smith had said,  Cllr Mrs Speak was concerned about the effect on tourism, but she said the Chairman had previously told her the Secretary of State didn't see that as an issue.

She wanted Fylde to have something in about it, because if Fylde didn't put something in, it would not be as easy for people to raise it at the Public Inquiry. She wanted something to be added about the effects of the proposed routes on Fylde's tourism and rural businesses.

The Chairman sought to get her to concentrate in highway matters, and said tourism was not a matter for this debate. Cllr Speak disagreed (as did we).

There was also clear and audible support for her position from the public gallery, but the Chairman was having none of it.

We think he was wrong in this matter.

We agree that the claimed adverse impact of shale gas extraction on the perception of people who might or might not come here is not a strong enough argument when used only in relation to highway matters.

But we believe the traffic generated by Cuadrilla's activity in terms of the practical,  physical, and sensory problems it will bring for tourists and visitors who have taken Fylde's holiday guide advice to come here; people who are trying to 'delve into the Fylde Countryside, and see what delights await them' as they attempt to use these lanes for holiday leisure activities - the same activities that Fylde now lists and strongly promotes via its holiday guide -  is a wholly legitimate reason to object.

Indeed, if the application were to succeed, then visitors who are denied what was promised in Fylde's brochure, might resort to claims for compensation and misrepresentation based on the Holiday Guide's wording - at least so far as the Trade Descriptions Act is concerned.

However, the Chairman and Officer persuaded Committee Members to accept that visiting leisure users were actually covered by the term 'vulnerable road users'

 Cllr Liz Oades

Was happy to support the Officer's recommendation. Said the speakers had all been excellent. But she caused a bit of a stir when she said she wanted Fylde Council itself to put forward observations to the Inquiry in April, something they had not done at the previous inquiry.

She said even parish councils were doing that and it was only right that Fylde should stand with them, and she wanted the Committee to agree to do that now.

There was wide public support (and applause) for this and a lot of nodding from other Councillors, but again the Chairman, supported by the Officer appeared reluctant. He was concerned about the additional workload it would generate in view of the officer time needed to be spent on another (Wrea Green) Public Inquiry which involved four planning applications in Wrea Green at more or less the same time.

The Chairman offered her a sort of olive branch and asked for time to consider whether a debate could take place in Council and the result of that be fed into the re-opened inquiry. (We suspect - and didn't really like - that he probably wanted time to put the idea to senior members of the Conservative Group to see if anyone objected or not before he gave a definitive view). Cllr Oades was happy to agree to the idea of putting written representations in to the Inquiry and not taking up officer time in the process, or even to deputing the Chairman or another Councillor to make a statement at the Inquiry.

The Chairman and Officer were all the time trying to gently bat the idea into the longer grass just outside the committee - for example by suggesting they ask LCC whether they thought it would be helpful.

 Cllr Neil Harvey

Congratulated the speakers and supported the officer recommendation. He said

"I think it's arguable that these additional proposed routes don't mitigate the proposed development in any way whatsoever, but rather increase the risks by introducing three unsafe routes where previously there was one unsafe route."

He added that the sheer number of passing places needed showed the inherent unsuitability of the roads proposed to be used.

Unusually, he (gently) 'broke ranks' and asked if one word could be added to the officers recommendations. (in fact he was proposing an amendment, but said it much more gently). He wanted to insert the word "significant' before the proposals having an "adverse impact" on highway safety.

After some discussion, the consensus was to turn this into "severe adverse impact".

 Cllr Kiran Mulholland

Supported the recommendation and did not want to dilute the message by adding more things in. It was clearly a ludicrous plan in terms of highway safety and that message should not be diluted.

 Cllr Linda Nulty

Spoke in support of the revised recommendation.

The chairman moved toward a vote which gave delegated authority to the Officer to create the final wording taking account of the points made in the debate which he enumerated (but did not include what Cllr Oades had asked for). She was quick to remind him of Fylde's need to make representations to the Public Inquiry.

She didn't want to alter the recommendation but wanted a separate minute of the Committee. The Chairman bowled a googly answer saying he was happy to have her request, and the way he had responded to it, recorded in the report of the meeting. Cllr Oades said she did not mind how it was done as long as it was minuted. The Chairman said

"Yes, we could make it a second point of the recommendation"

The Committee's Clerk asked if the officer could read out the wording of the final recommendation. The officer did his best, but we don't think his actual words were possible to reproduce because he had not had time to devise the final grammar, and with the Chairman apparently trying to clip Cllr Oades' wings by rephrasing what she had said, and her once again making the points she had made, he moved to the vote.

The vote was never in doubt - it was of course, unanimous in objecting to the proposed revised plan.

And with that Fylde has joined its objection to those already recently submitted by:

  • Elswick Parish Council
  • Treales, Roseacre & Wharles Parish Council
  • Medlar-with-Wesham Town Council
  • Kirkham Town Council
  • Inskip with Sowerby Parish Council
  • Greenhalgh with Thistleton Parish Council

- who all object to the new proposals

 SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

Well LCC will consider the matter when its Development Control Committee meets tomorrow (on 24 January 2018) at 10am in Committee Room B at County Hall in Preston.

The view that LCC committee reach tomorrow will be presented to the re-opened public Inquiry on 10th April.

The Officer's report for tomorrow's LCC meeting (not unexpectedly) recommends (in summary)

"That the conclusions of the report be noted and that officers be instructed to maintain the County Council's objection to the development by presenting evidence to the reopened public inquiry covering the issues set out in this report."

For Cuadrilla, that's another brick in the wall.

We confidently expect LCC to follow their officer's advice - which means that Cuadrilla's arguments will chiefly be made at the re-opened Roseacre Public Inquiry in April, where the (new) Inspector will take three or so weeks to hear the evidence and views from the experts and barristers for all sides, before making his own report to the Secretary of State who will take the 'final' decision (unless legal challenges are subsequently made by one or more parties of course).

At least that's the theory of it, but, after the rout that has been delivered on Cuadrilla's new route, and in view of the wall of local opposition now facing them, it's possible that Cuadrilla might pull out, and make some more revisions before yet another incarnation of their proposals appears.

Or they might find somewhere else in the broad Fylde area that's closer to one of the bigger roads (like at Preston New Road) and we might begin the process all over again.

We think if a second test wellpad is to go ahead, Cuadrilla ought to find somewhere next to the M55, and get the Government (who are so keen to see fracking that they're prepared to bend all sorts of rules to get it to happen) to build them a new temporary motorway site access for the duration.

Or maybe somewhere next to the soon-to-be-built 'Preston Westerly By Pass' would do - (at least, it might if they can find somewhere that isn't already built on).

Or Cuadrilla might choose to take their chances with a new planning inspector, and a Government Minister who, on present form, doesn't seem to be that fussed about what local electors, parish councils, borough councils, former planning inspectors, and quite probably (given Mr Stevens advice), county councils, think about the matter.

We hope to add the LCC decision as an addendum to this report as soon as we can.

UPDATE FOR LCC MEETING

We went to hear the debate at LCC this morning.

About 40 members of the public packed Committee Room B with 12 Councillors to hear presentations by seven residents, including Fylde's Peter Collins who gave some horrendous warnings about lorries overturning on tight bends, Maxine Chew who focussed on the A583's problems and the already unsatisfactory Thistleton junction, and Liz Oades who quoted the Tourism aspect from yesterdays meeting at Fylde.

All the County Councillors (as we predicted) voted to maintain their objection, and all but one spoke against the revised plan in the debate.

If readers can get it to work (we can't) there is a LCC Webcast of the meeting at

https://lancashire.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/330204

LCCs webcasts are very effective, but they require the latest browser versions (which, for a whole variety of reasons we won't use) and an extremely fast internet connection. We did get our own audio and when we have time we'll produce an article on the LCC meeting for our readers.

Dated:  10 January 2018

 

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