The boss of a Midland shale gas fracking company has vowed to press on despite plans for controversial exploration being thrown out.
Lichfield-based energy firm Cuadrilla had requested to test the flow of gas at four exploration wells at a proposed site in the North West.
But county councillors this week voted against the proposal in a result which has been described as a major setback for the UK shale gas industry.
Planning officials at Lancashire County Council had recommended its approval, but councillors chose to ignore the advice and rejected it due to adverse impacts on landscape and noise.
The decision was welcomed by jubilant anti-fracking campaigners outside the building and from local residents who said they had been in “a David and Goliath battle”.
Greenpeace said the vote was “a Waterloo” for the fracking industry, while Cuadrilla said it was “disappointed” and “surprised” and would consider an appeal.
The decision on the Preston New Road site was deferred from last week as councillors wanted to review the council’s legal advice which warned that rejecting the application because of its visual and landscape impacts would be “unreasonable” in planning terms.
They were further warned there was a “high risk” that a costs, penalty would be imposed on the council if they lost an appeal.
But subsequent legal advice from barristers consulted by the Preston New Road Action Group and Friends Of The Earth countered that members could reasonably reject the plans and there was no serious risk of costs if an appeal was allowed.
Proposing the refusal, Coun Paul Hayhurst told members of the development committee: “I am not against fracking as such but I do feel this is in the wrong place... let’s have good planning, let’s not just go for what Cuadrilla wants because it is the cheapest option .
“Let’s set the precedent of putting these rigs, if we have to have them, somewhere where it does not affect residents.”
Members previously said they had been under “intolerable pressure” in having the final say over the controversial process of releasing gas.
Last week they voted in line with recommendations by planning officials that a second application by Cuadrilla at Roseacre, near Preston, should be turned down because it would cause an increase in traffic.
Following this week’s decision, Patricia Davies, chairman of the Preston New Road Action Group, said: “This is not about gas, this is about greed. It is a case of, in this country, this is far too close to ordinary residents. It is an untried, an untested, self-regulating industry and it should not be anywhere near people.”
But Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, said he did not accept that people in Lancashire had made it clear they did not want fracking in the county.
He said: “I cannot disagree more with that assertion.The planning officer said that four per cent of the population of the Fylde objected to this application. The silent majority of people here are, I believe, in favour of this and poll after poll shows that.
“I think Lancashire is in danger of missing a huge opportunity. We have invested tens of millions, we are coming here with proposals fully backed by the council’s own officers in proposing to invest tens of millions more and the council is saying they do not want it.”
Asked how determined he was personally not to give up, he replied: “Very.”