Hydraulic fracturing in the UK is losing public support

Cuadrilla plans fracking in Lancashire

Oil and gas exploration company Cuadrilla will submit an application to use hydraulic fracturing for shale gas exploration near Blackpool, Lancashire.

The company, which previously gained media attention due to the massive anti-fracking protests at another of its prospective sites in Balcombe, Essex, will have to wait several months to see the decision regarding its application.

The company would like to drill up to four shale gas wells at two sites to test the gas flow and 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 a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that will accompany the planning application.

Once the planning application for the first site at Preston New Road is validated by Lancashire County Council, it is expected that a decision will be made within 16 weeks, said Cuadrilla.

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

Cuadrilla said public consultation for the two sites has involved more than 9,000 households.

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 reasonably practical to do so, we have amended our plans to incorporate feedback and suggestions."

However, green groups were less than enthusiastic about Cuadrilla’s proposals.

"Fracking firms are ploughing ahead despite widespread concerns about the impact of fracking on water supply, air pollution, and the industrialisation of our countryside,” said Greenpeace energy campaigner Lawrence Carter.

"Thousands of people across Lancashire have already joined a legal block against fracking to deny energy companies permission to drill under their homes. Cuadrilla's plans in the North West are bound to hit a wall of opposition in the coming months."

Friends of the Earth North West campaigner Helen Rimmer said: "The Government and the industry have teamed up to promote fracking ahead of Cuadrilla submitting these planning applications, yet in spite of the hype, public support for shale gas in the UK has fallen below 50 per cent for the first time.

"The public is rightly concerned that fracking causes more problems than it solves. There are risks for our water supply, our health and the beautiful Fylde environment, and it won't lower energy bills or create anywhere near as many jobs as renewables."

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