Ineos chief Jim Ratcliffe believes concerns about the safety of hydraulic fracturing are overblown

Cuadrilla starts preparations ahead of Lancashire fracking test

Image credit: Battenbrook, Wikimedia Commons

Energy firm Cuadrilla has commenced preparations at a site in Lancashire ahead of experimental drilling to assess the potential for oil extraction using the controversial hydraulic fracturing technique.

It will take three months for Cuadrilla to prepare the site near Little Plumpton for the drilling, which was originally rejected by a local council only to be approved by the UK government following an appeal, much to the dismay of local residents.

Cuadrilla will construct a new access road and a well pad at the site roughly the size of a rugby pitch. It will also remove topsoil and install an impermeable membrane underneath the site.

“The work will be undertaken to the highest safety and environmental standards,” said Cuadrilla’s chief executive Francis Egan after Lancashire County Council approved the firm’s plans.

“The operations are also underpinned by comprehensive site-monitoring programmes undertaken separately by ourselves, regulators and independent academics. Twelve months from now we hope this work will prove the economic viability of this indigenous shale gas resource in Lancashire, which will help improve energy security for the nation.”

Cuadrilla aims to drill up to four exploration wells at the site. The application had originally been turned down by the council but the UK Communities Secretary Savid Javid decided to give the project the go-ahead in October 2016 despite the council’s stance.

While business groups welcomed the decision, environmental campaigners and local residents protested heavily.

The UK government supports the development of the shale gas industry in the UK. The gas can be released when liquid is pumped under pressure into the ground, fracturing the rock.

The government believes that shale gas would make the UK independent on energy imports and create thousands of jobs and an economic boom.

Fracking is frequently used in the US. However, some evidence exists suggesting the method can trigger earthquakes and pollute water resources.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron committed to the development of fracking in the UK and current PM Theresa May has kept the commitment. Soon after taking office, May launched a consultation that could see homeowners receive individual payments for fracking wells drilled near their properties.

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