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
On 19 July 2018 Full Council considered a Notice of Motion submitted under Standing Order B36 and it was resolved that:
Lancashire County Council notes that in May this year Ministers outlined a proposal in a Written Ministerial Statement to redefine non-hydraulic fracturing shale gas exploration applications as permitted development and to redefine large scale shale gas production sites as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, thus removing any local authority control and community involvement in decision-making.
Lancashire County Council is committed to the principles of localism and the involvement of local communities in decisions that affect their environment, their health and safety and their well-being and resolves to respond to the Government's forthcoming consultation that applications for fracking should be determined by local planning authorities in accordance with planning law and guidance, and also to share this response with Lancashire MPs and relevant government ministers.
On the 6 October 2016, 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. Construction of the wellsite commenced in January 2017 and two wells were drilled between August 2017 and July 2018. Hydraulic fracking consent to fracture these was granted by the Secretary of State in August/September 2018.
In October 2016, 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 took place in April 2018. In February 2019, the Secretary of State refused the appeal, concluding that safe and suitable access to the site would not be achieved and significant impacts from the development on highway safety would not be mitigated to an acceptable degree. There would be an unacceptable impact on highway safety.
Both of these sites were restored in Summer/Autumn 2018 to their former agricultural use.
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.