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Cuadrilla announces two new Lancashire fracking sites

Shale Rock

An engineer displays a lump of shale rock at the Cuadrilla shale fracking facility in Preston, Lancashire. Photograph: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images


Powered by article titled “Cuadrilla announces two new Lancashire fracking sites” was written by Fiona Harvey and Adam Vaughan, for The Guardian on Tuesday 4th February 2014 14.16 UTC

Shale gas exploration company Cuadrilla has said it will apply to drill and frack a total of eight wells at two new sites in Lancashire.

The company already has three sites in the north-west – including the only site, near Blackpool, where modern hydraulic fracturing techniques have been used so far in the UK. Cuadrilla is not currently fracking at any of these sites owing to setbacks including small earth tremors caused by the drilling, and concerns over migrating birds.

Planning permission will be needed to drill and frack at the proposed new sites of Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road, both close to the company’s existing operations. An application for planning permission will be submitted this summer and if successful, drilling could begin next year.

Four fracking wells could be drilled at each site, according to a statement from Cuadrilla on Tuesday. For each well, the local community will receive £100,000 from the company, meaning that up to £800,000 may ultimately be handed out at the sites.

Of the company’s existing Lancashire sites, two – at Preese Hall and Anna’s Road – will be “turned back”, with no further activity expected. One at Grange Hill will not be used for fracking but will be turned into a seismic monitoring centre. A further possible site at Becconsall is under review.

Proposed Fracking Sites

Proposed sites in Lancashire

The company said separate applications will also be made to install seismic monitoring equipment, in accordance with government guidance that was brought in after the earth tremors that were found to be caused by the company’s drilling.

Cuadrilla said it had already begun contacting residents and community representatives near the new sites and will carry out a broad public consultation. An environmental assessment for each site will be conducted by the consultancy Arup.

Francis Egan, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, said: “We’ve been working hard to assess our site options and have undertaken extensive technical and geological analysis. As a result of this work, we have decided to focus on just two sites at this time. This will allow us to reduce the potential impact on the local area during exploration while still gathering the important information we need to determine how much gas could be recovered. We’re committed to being a good neighbour and to talking with the community at every stage of the process.”

Each well is likely to cost up to £10m to explore. Egan told the Guardian that each site would cover about two hectares. But the horizontal fracking wells will extend further underground than these footprints, and Egan said permission would be sought from neighbouring landowners before this was done.

Cuadrilla will not be seeking any more sites in Lancashire for the foreseeable future, concentrating instead on the two new sites.

Egan acknowledged that some opposition was likely but said he hoped that local people would be reassured that the exploration was safe and not disruptive. “Some people are opposed because they don’t want to see any new fossil fuels in the UK,” he added. “I guess we are going to have to disagree on that.”

Ken Cronin, chief executive of trade body, the UK Onshore Operators Group, told the Guardian: “The announcement by Cuadrilla today is excellent news for the industry and the next step towards providing indigenous sources of gas for the country. It’s a precursor to providing economic and environmental benefits [for the UK].”


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