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Residents win permission to challenge approval for seismic monitoring

A group of residents have secured permission to bring a judicial review claim over Lancashire County Council’s grant of planning approval for the monitoring of seismic activity and water quality.

In June members of Lancashire’s development control committee refused energy company Cuadrilla permission for two applications for temporary shale gas sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.

The committee also refused a separate planning application to install seismic and ground water monitoring stations around the proposed Preston New Road exploration site.

The councillors did, however, grant Cuadrilla permission for monitoring at Roseacre Wood, subject to certain conditions.

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Cuadrilla subsequently confirmed that it planned to appeal the decisions, including in relation to the conditions imposed to allow the seismic monitoring to go ahead.

The Roseacre Awareness Group, chaired by Elizabeth Warner, meanwhile instructed Estelle Dehon of Cornerstone Barristers to seek permission to challenge the approval for a monitoring array.

This comprises 80 buried seismic monitoring stations, 8 surface seismic monitoring stations and three boreholes, in a 4km radius of the proposed Roseacre Wood fracking exploration site.

Mrs Justice Lang in the Planning Court decided that it was arguable that Lancashire had erred in law in granting the planning permission.

According to Cornerstone Barristers, the judge found it “particularly persuasive” that the council arguably erred on the need for the array and the policy support for it in national policy, given that the array was intended as a mitigation measure for the main fracking proposal, which was recommended for refusal.

Mrs Justice Lang is also reported to have found it “particularly persuasive” that Lancashire arguably failed to take a number of material considerations into account, including the role of the array as a mitigation measure.

The challenge will additionally allege that the county council failed to take into account the cumulative effects of the array and that it unlawfully downplayed the fact that the array conflicted with two development plan policies.

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