MP welcomes fracking firm’s withdrawal
CONTROVERSIAL plans to begin fracking at a site in West Lancashire have been withdrawn.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Aurora has now withdrawn its plans, arguing that the current moratorium on fracking is effectively a ban which prevents Lancashire County Council from deciding the application.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.”