MP wel­comes frack­ing firm’s with­drawal

Ormskirk Advertiser - - Active -

CON­TRO­VER­SIAL plans to be­gin frack­ing at a site in West Lan­cashire have been with­drawn.

Aurora En­ergy Re­sources had wanted to drill at a mile-long bore­hole at Alt­car Moss, near the bor­der of West Lancs and Formby, but has now shelved those plans. It had hoped to carry out ini­tial test­ing ahead of a fur­ther ap­pli­ca­tion for long-term frack­ing.

The Aberdeen-based firm blamed the Gov­ern­ment’s ‘de facto ban’ on frack­ing for its de­ci­sion and ex­pressed frus­tra­tion at the length of time passed with­out a de­ci­sion.

The Gov­ern­ment has said it will not agree to any fu­ture frack­ing un­til more ev­i­dence of its safety could be made af­ter a se­ries of tremors near Cuadrilla’s Pre­ston New Road site in Lan­cashire.

The Alt­car Moss ap­pli­ca­tion has faced wide­spread op­po­si­tion across the com­mu­nity, with bor­ough coun­cils in Sefton and West Lan­cashire and par­ish coun­cils in Burscough, Ly­di­ate, Down­hol­land and South Lathom all reg­is­ter­ing ob­jec­tions to the plans.

Lo­cal anti-frack­ing groups had led vo­cal cam­paigns against Aurora’s plans and re­ceived the sup­port of MPs Rosie Cooper and Bill Ester­son, who also op­posed the ap­pli­ca­tion.

Aurora has now with­drawn its plans, ar­gu­ing that the cur­rent mora­to­rium on frack­ing is ef­fec­tively a ban which pre­vents Lan­cashire County Coun­cil from de­cid­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion.

But Ian Roche, Aurora’s man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, said the firm will con­tinue to lobby for frack­ing to be al­lowed in the coun­try.

He told the Ad­ver­tiser: “It is clear from re­cent com­ments by the Min­is­ter of State for En­ergy that the Gov­ern­ment con­sid­ers the ‘mora­to­rium’ on hy­draulic frac­tur­ing to be a de facto ban on shale gas ac­tiv­ity in the


“It is there­fore per­haps un­sur­pris­ing that the coun­cil of­fi­cers have felt un­able to de­ter­mine this ap­pli­ca­tion.

“It is our view that there is no sci­en­tific or public pol­icy jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the cur­rent ‘mora­to­rium’ and Aurora has com­piled a body of com­pelling ev­i­dence show­ing it to be an ex­treme ex­am­ple of asym­met­ric reg­u­la­tion, and out of line with the reg­u­la­tion of public amenity im­pacts across other in­dus­tries.”

“Aurora will now ad­dress this is­sue with the Depart­ment of Busi­ness, En­ergy and In­dus­trial Strat­egy.”

West Lan­cashire MP Ms Cooper wel­comed the de­ci­sion, say­ing: “It will be a huge re­lief to res­i­dents that Aurora have fi­nally taken the de­ci­sion to with­draw their ap­pli­ca­tion to frack in Alt­car Moss within my con­stituency.

“As long as that ap­pli­ca­tion was in place, it was clear that frack­ing com­pa­nies were re­ly­ing on lob­by­ing gov­ern­ment to over­turn the mora­to­rium de­spite there be­ing no ev­i­dence that frack­ing can be un­der­taken safely.

“Hope­fully this is the fi­nal step in pro­tect­ing West Lan­cashire res­i­dents from the risks that were ev­i­denced in the re­oc­cur­ring seis­mic ac­tiv­ity at the Pre­ston New Road frack­ing site.”

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