Fracking exploratory drilling to resume

Cuadrilla site on Anna's Road , Westby.
Cuadrilla site on Anna's Road , Westby.
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A SHALE gas firm is to seek permission to resume drilling at a Fylde site.

Hundreds of letters have been sent out by Cuadrilla Resources informing residents near its Anna’s Road site in Westby the company now wants to start horizontal drilling.

The process would be an extension to the existing vertical well shaft to explore further how much natural gas, trapped deep in shale rocks, can be recovered.

The company was given permission in December to resume exploration after a break since May 2011 when two earth tremors led to activity being halted until an investigation could be carried out.

The process, which involved shattering the shale rocks and injecting water to force out the gas, is a controversial one with environmentalists and some residents concerned it could lead to more tremors and pollution locally.

Now Cuadrilla, which owns several sites across the Fylde coast, including Weeton and Singleton, has asked Lancashire County Council for planning permission to drill horizontally into the shale rocks deep beneath the surface.

Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan said: “The horizontal exploration well will help us to advance our exploration programme, enabling us to explore more of the shale formation and to better understand the consistency of the shale rock and the natural gas held within it.

“Doing so will, we believe, move us closer to unlocking what is potentially a very significant natural resource for Lancashire and for the UK.”

Gayzer Frackman, from campaign group Frack Free Fylde, and who changed his surname as part of a protest against shale gas extraction, said Cuadrilla should not be extending the drilling without making sure the technology is safe.

He added: “An integral part of these wells are the concrete seals which act as a plug and these have not been proven to be safe.

“We asked the Health and Safety Executive to look at them but we have heard nothing back.

“Until the HSE inspect and carry out tests the horizontal drilling and further exploration should not go ahead.”

Mr Frackman, alongside other campaigners, planned to lobby councillors at Fylde’s full council meeting on Wednesday night. Mr Frackman said they would hand out leaflets and copies of the letter that anti-fracking groups throughout the UK had put together and delivered to the Prime Minister.

He said: “Some people might not be in possession of the full facts and some people might be sitting on the fence at the moment because it is a real hot potato.

“We want the councillors to take the safety issues around fracking seriously and this letter shows the questions we have put to the Prime Minister and which we want answers for.”