Is political expediency behind LCC’s announcement to delay planning application decisions?

As we predicted, Lancashire County Council has once again – at Cuadrilla’s request – delayed a decision on the company’s planning applications to frack Preson New Road (Little Plumpton) and Roseacre Wood. The LCC statement said:

“Lancashire County Council has agreed with Cuadrilla to extend the time period to make decisions on planning applications for shale gas development at two new sites to 30 June 2015.

“The council has received applications from Cuadrilla to drill, frack, and test gas flows, with associated separate applications for environmental monitoring, at two sites in Lancashire – Preston New Road at Little Plumpton, and Roseacre Wood at Roseacre.

“The extension follows a request by Cuadrilla to consider additional information about the applications. Cuadrilla’s request resulted in the deferral of a meeting of the Development Control Committee in January 2015 at which councillors had been due to make a decision on each application.

“The council has subsequently consulted upon the new information provided by Cuadrilla and planning officers must now review the feedback from the consultation period, and the details supplied by Cuadrilla, before preparing reports for a further meeting of the committee.

“Consultation on the further information relating to both sites took place from Friday 20 March to Friday 17 April to allow representations to be made. It had previously been agreed that both applications would be decided by 30 April 2015.

The council will announce dates for the applications to be determined by the Development Control Committee in due course.”

No one will be surprised by the news. Coming a week before the general election the 30 April was always in doubt – fracking is an electoral┬átoxic issue. It does beg the question though – has LCC been leant on? Is this political expediency by the Tory party – had the applications been approved it’s likely that many Fylde Conservative votes would have been lost. The decision favours both Cuadrilla and the pro-fracking Tories.

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