Countryside campaigners have fired a warning shot across the bows of potential shale gas companies.
The Lancashire branch of the Campaign for Rural England says it is concerned about the effects that “fracking “ will have on parts of the county’s countryside.
It is now urging councillors to be cautious about granting permission, in the light of the toll that climate change is already having.
Representatives of CPRE Lancashire are to attend Preston Council’s environmental scrutiny panel on Thursday to present their report into the question of shale gas exploration.
Cuadrilla is applying for planning consent to hydraulically fracture and test for shale gas at its site at Grange Hill near Singleton. It also plans to test drill another six sites across the Fylde coast.
An environmental impact study is now being prepared for Lancashire County Council.
The CPRE says in its report: “CPRE Lancashire is concerned that such large scale activity of this kind could result in unacceptable sprawling low density industrial development in the countryside, often in the midst of the best and most versatile agricultural land, requiring land clearance and levelling, with destruction of topsoil, and local habitats.
“The adverse cumulative nature of the impact on the landscape were this be allowed to happen needs to be understood. The amount of water required initially to develop each well is very large, creating environmental capacity issues .”
The CPRE urged planners to be cautious and examine all the implications before granting permission for “fracking”.
It adds: “We are concerned that community benefit funds should not be used to ‘buy off’ justified opposition; to do so would be an obstacle to sound planning decisions.
“CPRE Lancashire believes that transparent planning with appropriate environment regulation and mitigation will secure sound planning decisions. To this end, as applications go through planning, we will highlight significant landscape and wider environmental issues to support the decision making process.”