ANTI-shale drilling protestors are keeping a close eye on a planning appeal in Lancashire which mirrors rural concerns in Rotherham.
Woodsetts Against Fracking members are awaiting the outcome of an inquiry into energy firm Cuadrilla’s bid for up to four testing wells at Roseacre Wood, near Blackpool.
The application was refused by Lancashire County Council in 2015 and the planning inspector recommended refusal at a public inquiry two years ago over highways concerns.
The inquiry reopened this week to give Cuadrilla another opportunity to provide evidence on safety.
WAF members have drawn parallels between rural Roseacre and the southern part of Rotherham, where Ineos wants to carry out exploratory drilling in Woodsetts and Harthill.
Campaigners say three new HGV routes suggested for the Lancashire coastal site are all unsuitable for 44-ton lorries.
WAF member Kelly Jennings said: “Woodsetts, like Roseacre, is a small rural village that would be greatly affected by the proposed Ineos traffic plans.
“We are interested in learning how Cuadrilla have changed their plans and how communities are fighting back.
“We are horrified to learn this is their second appeal as Woodsetts share many issues and concerns regarding traffic, along with our neighbouring sites at Harthill, Tinker Lane and Misson in Nottinghamshire and Marsh Lane, Derbyshire.
“We are in the early stages of this process and we want to make connections with other established campaigning groups to help us fight this industry and show our support at this crucial time.”
The plan for a 2,800-metre test well and 60-metre drill rig on Dinnington Road, Woodsetts, was refused by Rotherham Borough Council in March over insufficient ecological surveys and worries about the increased HGV traffic.
There were more than 800 letters sent in objection — and in support — and WAF has received strong support in the area, including from parish councils and North Anston’s Tropical Butterfly House.
Centre manager and zoo curator Andrew Reeve said: “The Tropical Butterfly House, Wildlife & Falconry Centre cares about the local community.
“We believe everybody in the area should be made aware of the planned fracking and given the opportunity to express their opinion.”
Cuadrilla said drilling a mile under Roseacre Wood and testing the flow rates of natural gas would help determine if hydraulically fracturing the rock is commercially viable.
q The WAF fundraising car boot sale was postponed last weekend due to bad weather and will now take place on April 21 at Woodsetts Recreation Ground.