Fracking protest in Lancashire including a tractor procession© Press Association Images

Anti-fracking protesters used tractors during a protest outside Lancashire County Council in Preston.

About 500 protesters used about 20 tractors to rally against plans by energy firm Cuadrilla to frack at two nearby sites.

The procession of tractors passed the County Hall building in Preston during the demonstration.

See also: CLA claims victory over fracking liability

Cuadrilla’s planning applications to allow shale gas extraction at two sites – in Little Plumpton and Roseacre Wood, near Blackpool – were due to be discussed by county councillors at the meeting on 28 January.

But county councillors deferred a decision both applications by eight weeks following a request from Cuadrilla to provide “additional information” in relation to both applications.

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said: “The additional information we have provided on further mitigation measures will, we believe, fully address the noise and traffic concerns raised by the planning officer’s in their recommendation to refuse planning permission for both sites. 

“This additional information will be assessed by the planning officers and there will now be an opportunity for the public to properly review and comment on this.

“We remain committed to the exploration of shale gas in Lancashire.”

One dairy farmer, who did not want to be named, and whose farm is located in the middle of the two proposed sites, voiced his concerns.

“We remain committed to the exploration of shale gas in Lancashire.” Cuadrilla spokesman

“No one really knows about the effect fracking could have on farmland. This is a lovely rural farming area and we’d like it to remain that way,” said the farmer.

“There is great concern and the more you speak to people, the more concern there is.

“Fracking has been banned in some US states and in other countries. They don’t ban something for nothing.”

Friends of the Earth (FoE) said it was “disappointed” by the council’s deferral.

FoE north-west campaigner Helen Rimmer said Cuadrilla had already been given “several months to present its case” for fracking at the two sites, which had been rejected by council planning officers last week.

She added: “Lancashire council must resist Cuadrilla’s ploys to push fracking through and listen to the tens of thousands of voices of opposition and reject these plans.

“Failure to do so will leave Lancashire as the UK’s guinea pig for this unnecessary and polluting technology.”

Last week, a group of MPs from the Environmental Audit Committee urged the government to put on hold plans for fracking in the UK, claiming it was “incompatible” with climate change targets.