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Quiet satisfaction abounds

Lancashire county councillors have decided to reject Cuadrilla's Little Plumpton shale well planning application, throwing out the advice of their own planning officials. A second Cuadrilla application in the area fell at the first hurdle and never reached the councillors.

I assume there is scope for the government to step in and overrule, but I don't suppose that David Cameron has the parliamentary support to do anything like that, even if he had the gumption.

There will be quiet satisfaction in many places around the world tonight: at the BBC, in Saudi Arabia and in the corridors of the Kremlin.

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Reader Comments (35)

And Lancashire.

But not, I suspect, here. Because for some reason you guys really want us to use more fossil fuels. Why is that?

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterGubulgaria

I wonder how much Natural Gas is consumed in LCC's premises?

Jun 29, 2015 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

In other news: looking under beds banned to prevent discovery of hobgoblins.

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

As Green Sand points out in unthreaded the same argument stops all windmill developments in their tracks.

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Presumably this is a political move.

No councillor wants to be accused of raping the countryside and killing lots of innocent unborn children. Which is what each councillors' opponents will be able to say if they vote FOR fracking.

So they vote against it, but leave the decision to be reversed on appeal. That way, next election time, they can say to the electorate, "I tried to save you, but the evil oil companies forced the decision through the evil lawyers..."...

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Said it before

Unless they bring in UK Personal Mineral Rights Shale will never take off in the UK
If it does it will have to be behind Security Fences and Armies of Private Security Guards.

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Unless the rules have changed drastically. As an ex-councillor on a planning committee, it was suicide to defy your own officers' advice. Since a) You had to defend yourself in the appeal without professional guidance from your own officials b) Crucially, if you lost, then you were personally responsible and could be ruined financially. Big corporations usually know the regulations backwards and whether it is popular to defy the law or not the implications could be disastrous. Since Amber Rudd stated on QT last week that she was all for shale,and the regulations have been complied with, then this is not a matter for the PM. It is more concerning that elected representatives were cowed by the sight of a few placards and that Lancashire County Council will burn council tax payers' money when they inevitably lose the appeal. This was always the case historically with opencast applications.

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterTrefor Jones

On the principle that solar/wind-farm owners can claim FiTs and/or make a bloody good fortune from ROCs, why doesn't the Gov offer councils a small(?) incentive to collect revenue from 'unconventional gas fields'? I bet that would change a few minds....
And Greenpiss, WWtF and Fiends of the Earth can take a running jump: who elected them anyway?

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Whilst im still on

Attenborough big face to face with Obama at the Whitehouse

Carbon Spewing flight all the way to Washington 1st Class and back so what was wrong with a Trans Atlantic Video Link then Sir David ?

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

Fracking was needed to reduce gas prices and imports. When the electricity prices go up or we face blackouts we know who to blame.

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Oh well, it will still be there when the energy bills soar and people want to know what we can do about it.

Jun 29, 2015 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Not entirely unexpected.

The provincial municipals would doubtless have been intimidated by the dreadlock dog on a string crew and Bez - and I'd imagine an unprecedented bombardment from NooYoik legislators rattled them a bit too... In general council business is conducted with only the applicants present, rarely an objector and these days even more rarely a representative of the press.... The BBC has been "doing it" blow by blow - and other national press attention like the Telegraph will have 'em all skittish.. Doing 'nowt just shows utter cowardice.

Cuadrilla could I suppose have had a bit of fun by promising to deploy a camouflaged all electric transport fleet and perhaps turned the drilling site into an artwork - no shortage of performance artists of international renown who'd jump at the chance. like say the acclaimed Christo If it's effectively turned into a circus why not actually give them one ? - it'd have been more fun and cheaper than the lawyers....

@Trefor Jones - as I understand it - there are some legal tripwires that have to be triggered before any personal liability could be pursued and even then it would be I suspect a civil case with all the expensive hoopla that involves. The good old days of statutory surcharging of errant councillors has gone (courtesy of Bliar / Nolan) . A grotesque morass of Teflon infused fudge has been substituted - where you'd really have to "go some" to get nicked for naughtiness. This looks like a straightforward case of intimidation and cowardice.

If Egan appeals - watch closely ..... HM Planning Inspectorate will not imho be independent + honest brokers and the result will be a true litmus test of the present Westminster administration's intentions.

There's also the matter of the anti fracking independent candidate at the GE who outspent all the others put together....

Jun 29, 2015 at 10:52 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Don't think you have it quite right.
I spent 14 years on planning committees including a fair spell as Chair of a Unitary Authority planning committee. It is important to note that Councillors on the committee are acting in a quasi-judicial capacity and that political groups are NOT supposed to take decisions on applications. (I don't pretend it never happens - but there should be hell on if it does!) Obviously Councillors are subjected to a lot of pressure, especially on highly controversial applications, and this can be a big problem if you are the Ward Councillor for the application site. But, in theory, members of committee should demonstrate that they are prepared to listen and consider evidence, on both sides, very carefully. I can think of a few instances where Officers' Recommendations were voted down and (even fewer) where it was absolutely right that members did so. But in the authority on which I served, both officers (including the Chief Executive, where appropriate) and the Committee Chair were scrupulous in making sure that everything was recorded (including named votes) and that members were reminded in no uncertain terms, of their responsibilities and the consequences of playing to the gallery. I appreciate (from my other role now, as part time poacher) that Planning Committees of other authorities leave a huge amount to be desired and that this is particularly the case in Councils where there is only a very weak opposition.
The members seem to have disregarded what (apparently) was a very well prepared officer's recommendation and have refused on noise and visual intrusion. Both laughably inadequate and inappropriate grounds for refusal. If I was Cuadrilla I would certainly appeal AND ask for costs. Whilst personal surcharges of errant Councillors are rare, I think this is still possible for particularly bizarre decisions.
But I do think that, if the appeal is successful and costs are awarded, the members voting against should be kicked off the planning committee forthwith.

I do believe it is important that members of the public affected by an application should be enabled and empowered to make their case to the committee, subject only to the laws on libel, I suppose.
But what about those who have manufactured this 'controversy', notably including the BBC, Grauniad, and "Charities" like Greenpeace & Friends of the Earth and all the rest? Where an organisation has very significant resources and staff and chooses to actively fabricate evidence and resurrect zombie evidence that has been shown to be false, there MUST be a mechanism for them to be held to account. But this is the reverse of what has been happening for the last decade or more. Whilst the Government has sniggered behind their hands. This MUST be dealt with because the UK is becoming an international laughing-stock. Why on earth would anyone want to invest here?

Jun 29, 2015 at 11:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

Martin Brumby, if Cuadrilla appeal and win, irrespective of any costs imposed on the authority, the authority will have incurred extra costs for ignoring the Officer's recommendation

Jun 29, 2015 at 11:43 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Apologies hit wrong button.

The extra cost of all this will be paid for by the Local rate payers, not the Green Blob from their distant homes.

Another triumph of the Green Blob, over local democracy, at local's expense, for extra energy costs, and loss of local jobs.

Power cuts caused by Greens, should be referred to as Green-Outs.

Jun 29, 2015 at 11:53 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie
Jun 30, 2015 at 12:59 AM | Unregistered Commenterclipe

It is relevant to point out that only European countries are committing to this sort of idiotic policy. They might scream louder in the US, but on the ground, they keep on drilling and, consequently, their economy is booming as their energy bills drop again and again.

Jun 30, 2015 at 2:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

The obligatory reference to the Kremlin is getting tiresome... Really, for many years until the devil was opportunistically discovered, the worst enemies of shale gas were UK's and EU's own politicians. So spare us.

Jun 30, 2015 at 2:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterTomRude

This ruling simply shows that Britain, and Lancashire in particular, has the price of electricity wrong.
It is obvious that not enough windfarms and solar energy farms have not been allowed to come online and show what the future will be like. Without this direct knowledge the good people Little Plumpton could not possibly understand. Throwing technical jargon and numbers at people is foolhardy, what they require is real grassroots experience of real renewable power services. So close all the coal fired generation plants, and Lord Deben to step-up to the plate.

And yes I know Lancashire County Council rejected the bid on the grounds of “unacceptable noise impact” and the “adverse urbanising effect on the landscape”. But I believe Lord Deben is better able to launch the required camouflage of political smoke and mirrors to effect the lowering of any windfarm’s true visual profile. That is to say he’s probably more adept at acquiring taxpayer funds to pay-off the local dissident residents.

Jun 30, 2015 at 3:41 AM | Unregistered Commentertom0mason

Golf Charlie,
Quite correct. Rate payers will have to pick up the tab for costs.
Hopefully very substantial costs.
If there are a few remaining councillors who are bright enough to fart and chew gum simultaneously, they should be able to make political capital out of this Quixotic sally which has further burdened taxpayers.
And voters will perhaps consider the abilities of their representatives and the quality of advice given by Greenpeace and the BBC.
Bring it on.

Jun 30, 2015 at 8:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

In Texas it was decided that regulating mineral rights is the obligation of the state, not the whim of local towns and cities that do not have the resources to professionally appraise the situation.
Texas got it right.

Jun 30, 2015 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

The joke is that local councils are almost powerless to block subsidy farm applications from BigWind and BigSolar.

Jun 30, 2015 at 9:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

Some reports of the decision I've read suggest that the Council acted on the advice of FoE. Perhaps they should demand an indemnity for the consequences?

It's evident that this will go to appeal and be overturned - but that will add many more months to the process. I've lost track of what happened to Cuadrilla's applications to establish benchmark seismic and water quality monitoring, which was also turned down. Until that has been completed, they won't be drilling anyway.

Jun 30, 2015 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

"the large drilling rig would alter the rural landscape"

Whereas thousands of gigantic windmills on hilltops are perfectly fine?


These people are beyond parody.

Jun 30, 2015 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Duffin

It might be interesting to discover on what grounds the BBC consider the decision to be a "triumph for democracy", given that anti-fracking election candidate Mike Hill (a BBC go-to for anti-fracking appearances) lost so heavily. Indeed, how much was Mr Hill paid by the BBC for his appearances on radio and TV?

Jun 30, 2015 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

I wolder how many of those protesters actually live in Lancashire? Don't vote? Don't work? Most of them I suspect.

Jun 30, 2015 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

We've got a big new wind farm going ahead at Thorney in Cambridgeshire. I managed to get my two-penn'orth on Radio Cambridgeshire this morning to the effect that, not only are the developers/farmers only interested in the subsidies/feed-in tariffs; but the 'name plate' capacity always quoted by the developers and parroted by the media, is just so much fiction.
I was followed shortly afterwards by an ex- Friends of the Earth worthy who came out with all the usual garbage about 'renewables are providing 10% of power and will be producing 50% by 2050... etc, etc...'
Boy, do these guys choose their words and statistics carefully....!

Jun 30, 2015 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

@Martin Brumby

I doubt that the individual councillors will volunteer their reasons for voting as they did - but vote they did....

I have seen a number of planning applications where councillors have voted perversely and against the technically correct advice of their supporting officials. I have also seen officials pursue squabbles and personal vendettas with developers which in one case resulted in legal action outside the planning laws. The apply, refuse, adjust, re-apply loop is a tactic that both sides use.... The council by and large has deeper pockets - yours and mine.

Your experience is I think (as you volunteer) part of a spectrum of competence in local authorities. Some fall well short of what you describe.

Some years back West Wiltshire DC (now defunct) had a criminal cabal of councillors and officials that looted the public purse of some millions of pounds. Planning antics were only part of the mix.... The whole matter was fudged up and dragged out for almost 2 years. No executive Mercedes , Spanish villas or cash were recovered and plod mislaid the evidence.

My primary point of advice to anybody dealing with a council is to have absolutely every communication recorded / hard copy and time stamped. Do not restrain from using FoI if information is incomplete beyond say 7 days.

Getting remedy for damage caused by naughty officials is worse by orders of magnitude than the original application with little evidence that you get much from "winning" other than a moral victory. Sometimes though, that victory - like in the case of Dame Shirley Porter is sweet!

My own take on this affair is that it's cowardice and incurious-ness that drove them to this point. Most people are very uncomfortable in the spotlight and "do nothing" seems like the safest bet.

As to the Alinsky-ites in WWF, GP, FoE, BBC and Bez's Crew - they will disregard truth and decorum in pursuing their noble crusade - well beyond notional constraints in law in the knowledge that few if any have either the resources or stomach to hold their feet to the fire. The primary problem we have in the UK is the unequivocal bias in the BBC and the regional media led by NewsQuest UK.

Jun 30, 2015 at 12:42 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Firstly Respect to the 4 councilors that voted FOR
- obviously we need to get fracking ASAP ..the longer the delay the higher peoples power bills will be, the lower the fracking jobs , and lower the tax income
..but there is the problem of the green fantisists.
..we'll have to see what Cameron's next cunning step is ...He's probably too indebted to subsidy mafia to do anything ..and might leave it to Cuadrilla to sue ...unless they take their cah and expertise overseas away from Green Lalaland, like most sensible people do.

BTW The BBC ACTIVISTS subtitled their report 'Triumph for democracy' accompanied by the usual dodgy graphics twits the local anti-fracking candidadte lost by miles in the election remember

Jun 30, 2015 at 2:38 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

On current predictions, by 2030 over 70% of electricity will need to generated by gas on days when solar and wind sources are not effective (even though the capacity from these sources will have doubled by then). As the councillors are concerned about noise I suggest that when the inevitable power cuts occur they are centred on Lancashire. They can then be first in line to enjoy the quiet and serenity.

Jun 30, 2015 at 3:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpen

"would alter the rural landscape"

A few years ago, I saw the British a capella folk group "Artisan" perform here in Ontario. They sang a beautiful song about the mystical, beautiful moors...then had to admit that they were in a bit of quandary when it came to putting up wind farms. "We're green", they said, "but still, its a blight".

Almost made me feel sorry for them. Almost.

BTW, this "altered landscape" meme also hit the ultra-Green Kennedy family in the US, when someone had the audacity to point out that a wind farm would be just great, wind-wise, off Hyannis Port.

Hypocrites, all of them.

Jun 30, 2015 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterCaligulaJones

Yes more fossil fuels please. That's what enables teenies like yourself the privilege of using the latest App on your IPhone. It wasn't your generation that invented this shit and it isn't your generation that has the right to impose Luddite policies on the rest of us. We will win. Luddites like yourself will lose in the long run.

Jun 30, 2015 at 8:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterkevin king

Today's new scare story is from that bastion of green reason RollingStone
"What's Killing the Babies of Vernal, Utah? June 22, 2015
A fracking boomtown, a spike in stillborn deaths and a gusher of unanswered questions"

- The normal shallow speculative claim that spread terror in seconds, but takes 2 hour to contextulise and debunk.
It can't be fully debunked until the future, but it is scare propaganda cos they fail to mention the flaws with their claim eg old story, tiny sample size, cherrypicked location, already last year was different, conspiracy theory etc.

#1 It's not news it's an old story First reported more than 1 year ago. In March the health dept came up with 2014 stats which showed a drop back from that 2013 spike.
Spike in Infant Deaths in Fracking Area runs the main headlines
the subheadlines :
- "Investigation » There is not enough evidence pollution was the cause, but plenty of reason to do more research, state epidemiologists say."
- "Health department managers said they will revisit the study in two years and continue monitoring data from the Basin." ..em waiting 2 years ..doesn't seem like they think it's a serious risk
- They added "Although the statistical differences between the TriCounty area and the state are minimal when it comes to adverse health outcomes, there are obviously patterns that raise some concerns for public health locally,"
....Jeez, sounds like cherry picking ..a particular time space a particular parish, small sample size etc.

..What about all the parishes ? Well health laws that protect the interests of insurance companies, do prevent hospitals releasing stats, so that fuels conspiracy theories ..The initial report came from a midwife counting gravestones ..surely journalists could do the same for other parishes ? No, it's easier too search google for scary pics to accompany a rehash of the story.

Jul 1, 2015 at 9:39 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

@Martin Brumby Jun 29, 2015 at 11:31 PM

"manufactured this 'controversy'" nails it for me ,unfortunately I have had to listen to BBC NORTH WEST news :-(
talk about biased/onesided/agenda driven reporting.
they achieved the remit from BBC central

Jul 2, 2015 at 1:11 AM | Unregistered

I'm a member of this particular electorate (and a local to the Preece Hall test site) and I can tell you that during the last GE not one of the candidates standing on an anti-fracker ticket got voted in. Maybe Lancashire County Council should ask itself why instead of listening to the Green Peace propagandist drivel of a rag tag minority group of ill-informed NIMBY and/or Luddite hypocrites whose lives would be made far more miserable if they were denied the fruits of fossil fuels. Many I know for a fact drive cars because living in isolated Fylde villages their livelihoods seriously depend upon it.

Jul 3, 2015 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterLynne at Counting Cats

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