Planning bid for fracking wells

Engineers working on a hydraulic fracturing rig
Engineers working on a hydraulic fracturing rig
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The company which wants to extract shale gas beneath the Fylde is to apply in the next two weeks to drill four test wells.

Cuadrilla Resources is to submit a planning application to Lancashire County Council to drill, hydraulically fracture and test the flow of gas from up to four exploration wells at its proposed exploration site at Preston New Road.

It is expecting a decision to take around 16 weeks.

ButJean King from Frack Free Freck said: “We will be putting forward our objections. We don’t want fracking on the Fylde, our members’ concerns are varied but mine includes worries about the toxic waste produced by the process. Nothing I have seen tells me that they know what to do with the millions of gallons of fracking fluid and the radio-active waste produced.

“There are lots of questions. I wish it was clearly safe but we think it is not.”

Friends of the Earth’s North West Campaigner Helen Rimmer said: “Fracking causes more problems than it solves with risks for water supply, health and the beautiful Fylde environment - and it won’t lower energy bills or create nearly as many jobs as renewables.

“We will be working alongside local community groups to scrutinise these plans.”

Fracking is the process of injecting water and chemicals into the ground at high pressure to release the gas inside rock.

Cuadrilla today said plans will also be submitted to install a network of seismic monitoring stations within a 4km radius of the proposed exploration site. As part of the process, planning and environmental consultants at Arup have produced an Environmental Impact Assessment that will accompany the planning application.

A separate planning application for a second proposed exploration site, at Roseacre Wood, will also be submitted a few weeks later.

Cuadrilla’s chief executive Francis Egan said: “This application could be a really important milestone for Lancashire and the UK as we seek to unlock Lancashire’s shale gas potential. 

“The development of the shale gas industry has the potential to bring significant investment, community benefits and opportunities for local people and the North West and UK economies.

“We have undertaken extensive consultation and engagement with the local communities on these applications and have listened carefully to what people have told us.

“Where it has been practical to do so we have amended our plans to incorporate feedback and suggestions.”

The public consultation for the two sites has included regular newsletters and updates to more than 9,000 households along with Cuadrilla holding events to give residents the opportunity to find out more about their plans.

The planning bid has been welcomed by the North West Energy Taskforce members.

Blackpool-based Gary Lovatt, regional chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses in Lancashire and Cumbria, said: “Small businesses throughout the region should be pleased to hear this news.

“We are fully supportive of regulated and safety conscious shale gas extraction which can provide a significant boost to our region’s economy.”