More Fools’ Gold

So following on from yesterday’s post we have further evidence of how our “gold standard regulation” works.

Yesterday morning the A583 was closed at about 7:15 to allow a convoy of trucks to enter the site.

The trucks passed protesters at the entrance to the site at 7:27.

This was reported as a breach to Andrew Mullaney, Head of Planning at Lancashire County Council, because (as those who read yesterday’s post about the “gold standard” but ever-changing traffic management plan  will know) Cuadrilla are not allowed to bring HGVs onto site before 07:30.

2.3 Operational Hours
HGVs will only be permitted to enter or leave the Site between specified hours as set out in condition 19 of the planning permission granted on 6 October 2016.These hours are summarised as follows:

Delivery or removal of materials, and works associated with the delivery and removal of plant and equipment – 07:30-18:30 Monday to Friday (except public holidays), 08:30-12:00 on Saturdays (except public holidays);and

Essential repairs to plant equipment used on site may require HGV movements outside of these hours.

The co-ordinated planning of the arrival of vehicles as set out in Section 3.6 will ensure that vehicles do not arrive at the site outside of the permitted hours.

Now, you may be puzzled as to why I am allowing myself to get exercised about a 3 minute breach here. Well, it is not the extent or the impact of the breach which is important here. It is the reaction of the Head of Planning at Lancashire County Council.

Yesterday, according to those present,  Mr Mullaney was made aware of the breach and supporting evidence was provided in the form of a live stream on Facebook which show a timestamp for the beginning of the stream as 07:22. At 4 minutes and 28 seconds into the stream we see the first lorry pass, so it is evident that the latest this could be is 07:27.

So, let’s just walk through this. Mr Mullaney is made aware of a breach. Mr Mullaney is provided with what at first sight, at least, looks like clear evidence of a minor breach. Mr Mullaney is provided with a site log by Cuadrilla which appears to record something at odds with the evidence provided – i.e. that they hid the fact that the trucks entered the site a few minutes early in their log.  That is the issue, and not the actual extent of the breach.

In our world of of gold standard regulation Mr Mullaney’s first reaction is now of course to wonder if Cuadrilla being allowed to mark their own homework is such a good idea. Mr Mullaney is now rightly concerned that this could be evidence that Cuadrilla are potentially falsifying records, albeit in a relatively minor way in this instance. Mr Mullaney is an intelligent man and realises that this could be proved or disproved with a quick call to his contact at Lancashire Police to get a time stamp from one of the officers’ bodycam recordings. Mr Mullaney calls his friends in the police, finds that their evidence supports that of the livestreamer and calls Cuadrilla in for a stiff talking to about the accuracy of their records.

Sorry. That’s not what happened at all.

Here is Mr Mullaney’s reaction?

Given the fact that Lancashire County Council are conspicuous by their absence on the site (unless you count their ridiculous temporary camps on the grass verge of course), you might think Mr Mullaney would be glad that citizens are actually monitoring the breaches of the regulations he is supposed to be enforcing, but it would seem that he has a similarly glib and blinkered attitude towards breaches at the leader of his council.

Yesterday local businessman Mark Mills delivered a petition signed by 4400 people to LCC. The response he got from Geoff Driver was so dismissive that you have to wonder if maybe Mr Diver’s attention could be on other more pressing matters?

Hi Mr Mills
Thank you for your e-mail. The Council is aware of the breach of the Condition and has written to Cuadrilla. Any action the Council takes must be proportionate to the breach so you can be assured we will not be ordering Cuadrilla to remove the equipment.
Geoff Driver

Mr Mills was as unimpressed as you might expect

Mr Driver

That is not proportionate.

For example, if I built a house without regard to the planning conditions, the Council could (would) order me to take it down. Therefore, the removal of equipment brought onto site outside of the planning conditions imposed is proportionate and required by 4,000 local people who have taken the time and trouble to support your enforcement of those conditions.

Cuadrilla was given very specific conditionality in its permission to operate and as a local resident, I rely upon you, the Council, to enforce their obligations and for peaceful enjoyment of my home. Their movement of vehicles out of hours and accessing the site from the Kirkham M55 exit is against two conditions. As Cuadrilla are already in breach, having never operated a wheel wash, which has caused dirt from the site to be carried to the road, I would request you detail to me by return when your enforcement officers have been to site, given the number of complaints you have received from me and others.

For you information, I am dissatisfied with your glib and short response to over 4,000 local people’s desire to see Lancashire County Council enforce its planning conditions and am similarly worried that your lack of action will embolden Cuadrilla to deliberately breach further conditions with regards to safety, for example.

Kind regards


Meanwhile the paint continues to peel off the gold veneer exposing the dud currency beneath it.

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