Despite "massive pressure" from both the UK government and the fossil fuel industry, local elected officials in the northwest county of Lancashire have rejected a drilling application from the energy firm Cuadrilla to start fracking at a site on England's Fylde coast.
The UK Telegraph described the vote as "a major setback" for Britain's shale gas industry, with the Lancashire County Council justifying its refusal on the grounds that Cuadrilla's proposal would have "an unacceptable adverse impact on the landscape" including "urbanizing" its rural character, and would have an "unacceptable noise impact" for local residents.
According to the BBC's Helen Carter, "people wept openly" in the wake of the vote—"but they were tears of joy, not disappointment."
Subsequently, Carter reported: "A chorus of 'Frack free Lancashire' sounded outside County Hall. Then 'Frack free world'."
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As the Associated Press writes:
Cuadrilla’s rejection is the latest sign that fracking may remain the preserve of U.S. drillers after Poland’s attempts to promote domestic shale-gas also foundered. Difficult geological conditions, fierce environmental opposition and the collapse of the oil price have stymied development of a fracking industry in Europe.
Lancashire has become a hotbed of the anti-fracking movement, serving as the home base for Reclaim the Power, a week-long activist camp aimed at "connecting the dots" between government and industry efforts to expand shale gas drilling in the UK.
"This is a fantastic victory for the people of Lancashire, and the campaigners who have fought so hard to increase awareness of the dangers of fracking," said Caroline Lucas, a UK lawmaker for the Green Party. "Today's decision proves that, in spite of all the government's efforts to force through fracking, local communities can prevent it from going ahead."
And Furqan Naeem, northwest campaigner for Friends of the Earth, praised the "brave county councilors" who, "in the teeth of massive pressure from Cuadrilla and Westminster...have voted to protect their citizens and the local environment."
Calling on both Cuadrilla and the government to "respect Lancashire's decision and not try to force unpopular fracking on these communities," Naeem added: "The stakes for local people, for democracy and for the environment could not be higher. Though all three emerge as victors today, the fight against fracking and dirty energy is far from over."
The BBC has this video of people celebrating after the vote: