Companies looking to carry out exploratory investigations, followed by testing and possible extraction of onshore oil or gas, including shale gas, must apply for planning permission from the county council.
As the strategic planning authority, the county council is responsible for managing the planning process and determining planning applications in line with legislation and planning rules set out by the government as well as the policies of the local development plan
In 2014 an oil and gas company called Cuadrilla applied for planning permission to develop two new sites to explore for shale gas by drilling, hydraulically fracturing, (fracking) and testing the flow of gas. The county council received applications for:
In June 2015, the county council's development control committee met to decide on the planning applications for shale gas exploration at the two sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood, and for the associated applications for the monitoring arrays to each site. The committee refused planning permission for both exploration sites, and the monitoring array at Preston New Road. The monitoring array at Roseacre Wood was approved subject to conditions. The reports to the County Council’s Development Control Committee relating to the applications can be viewed here.
In September 2015, Cuadrilla lodged four appeals to the Secretary of State against the decisions to refuse planning permission for both exploration sites, the monitoring site at Preston New Road and against one of the conditions imposed on the planning permission for the monitoring array at Roseacre Wood. The appeals were heard at a public inquiry by an inspector in early 2016, who following the inquiry prepared a report and recommendations, which were forwarded to the Secretary of State for determination. You can view the documents relating to the appeals on the inquiry website.
On the 6 October 2017, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government allowed Cuadrilla's appeal against the County Council's decision to refuse permission for fracking at the Preston New Road site and granted planning permission, subject to conditions.
In the same decision, the Secretary of State said that he was minded to allow the appeal relating to the Roseacre Wood site but that the public inquiry should be reopened to allow further evidence to be submitted by the appellant in relation to highway impacts. The reopened public inquiry will commence on 10 April 2018. The Inspector appointed to hold the inquiry is Mr M. Middleton. A pre-inquiry meeting will be held beforehand to discuss how the inquiry will be run.
The appeal against the condition imposed on the permission for the Roseacre Wood monitoring array was allowed.
The Secretary of State’s decision letter and Inspectors report can be viewed here.
Cuadrilla applied for planning permission for retention of the existing site compound and access track, installation of seismic and pressure monitors within existing well, seismic and pressure monitoring, plugging and abandonment of existing exploratory well and restoration of the site. In February 2015, the County Council's Development Control Committee and refused the application. The full reports can be read here.
In November 2015, Cuadrilla lodged an appeal with the Secretary of State against this decision. The Inspector's decision was received on 23rd February 2016 and was to allow the appeal and grant planning permission for the retention on the existing compound. The appeal documents are available for inspection under application no. LCC/2014/0084
The County Council carries out monitoring of all minerals and waste sites in Lancashire to ensure that conditions of planning permissions are complied with. This includes shale gas development.
The site monitoring reports for the Preston New Road Exploration site can be viewed here:
There are other sites in Lancashire that have been granted planning permission for hydrocarbon exploration. There are no current plans to carry out 'fracking' at these sites.
Find out about these existing sites and other related planning permissions.