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Opposition groups say fracking launch will just strengthen opposition

The drilling rig which created the two wells at Preston New Road
The drilling rig which created the two wells at Preston New Road
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The news that Cuadrilla is set to carry out its first fracking at the Preston New Road site has brought reaction from supporters and opponents of the controversial industry.

The shale gas exploration firm said it expects to start hydraulically fracturing the shale rock around the first of its two horizontal shale gas exploration wells in the next week and the process will take three months to complete for both exploration wells.

Barbara Richardson from the Roseacre Awareness Group said: "We were expecting this announcement. It is a sad day for communities, a sad day for the environment, sad for localism and local democracy and climate change.

"This is just the start of the next stage. It will not change our resolve, if anything it will strengthen the opposition. There is a growing opposition to fracking. There have been three days of direct action here at Preston New Road this week alone, two lock-ons and then a truck surfer yesterday.

"The drone photographs of the site show the scale of fracking operations. There have been 15,000 vehicle movements to this site and there is the potential for hundreds more sites. People need to wake up to what this could mean to their communities. The industry says it will bring jobs, but there are more people employed at an Aldi store than at four fracking sites."

Greenpeace said the fracking could start the week the IPCC's new climate change report will be published.

Kate Blagojevic, head of energy at Greenpeace UK, said: "Seven years after the last UK well was fracked, the industry has produced no energy and no money.

"But to try to keep it going, the government has changed property law to give frackers access to the land under your home and overruled local councils and people to force fracking on communities.

"Millions have been spent on policing to shield the frackers from resistance in those communities, and protesters have been sent to prison for trying to protect those communities and the planet.

"Next week climate scientists will publish their report on the changes we need to make to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees - a key recommendation will be to keep oil, gas and coal in the ground. The government should take heed, stop forcing fracking on a reluctant nation and start backing renewables now."

Laurie Underwood, from activist group Reclaim the Power, said: "To get this far, the government and shale gas industry have had to imprison protesters, seek court injunctions to silence the public and change planning laws to push through fracking in the face of widespread opposition."

"The protests and blockades that have occurred outside drilling sites are not exceptional scenes; fracking companies and their investors should expect this at every place they attempt to frack. This industry is not scaleable and not viable. "

"In the week following the imprisonment of three protesters for blockading trucks near Cuadrilla's drilling pad at Preston New Road - there have been two similar protest actions at exactly the same locations. We remain undeterred by attempts to silence dissent. The government have underestimated the breadth and depth of public opposition to fracking."

"Together with residents groups and trade unionists, we're calling a national demonstration outside Cuadrilla's gates on Saturday 20th October."

But shale gas supporter group Lancashire For Shale, which says fracking will bring a home grown energy and resources supply, create hundreds of jobs and boost the economy with tax revenue, said Cuadrilla's announcement was great news.

Lancashire For Shale Chairman, Lee Petts, said: "Getting to this point has been a long and winding road at times, but worth it. Every 't' has been crossed and every 'i' dotted, meaning that there is no reason why fracking for shale gas cannot now proceed.

"We look forward to receiving positive reports of commercial gas flows in the new year. In the meantime, we will continue to educate Lancastrian businesses about the supply chain opportunities and energy security benefits that a successful Lancashire shale gas industry will one day bring to the county."

Read More: Cuadrilla announces decision to start fracking in the coming week