Energy firm Cuadrilla has confirmed it has submitted a planning application to drill for shale gas at a site in Lancashire. The move is likely to spark protests among local residents and environmentalists.
The firm said in a statement that the proposal it had handed to Lancashire county council would allow it to “drill, hydraulically fracture and test the flow of gas from up to four exploration wells on the site”, if approved.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves injecting a highly pressurised mixture of water, sand and chemicals into shale rocks to release gas. The practice is relatively new in the UK, but it is well established in the US. Negative effects of fracking have included water and soil contamination and risk of minor earthquakes.
The firm intends to drill Preston New Road but will also soon submit a separate planning application for a second shale gas exploration site at Roseacre Wood. These would be added to the eight existing sites in Lancashire.
The council is expected to reply to the application within 16 weeks. An environmental impact assessment has already been conducted by consultants at Arup. Once the council has validated both the proposal and the environmental statement, the two will be available to the public.
Cuadrilla’s drilling activities came under scrutiny last summer when the company announced plans to drill an oil site in Balcombe, Sussex. The move sparked huge protests and several activists were arrested, including Green MP Caroline Lucas. Cuadrilla eventually decided not to go on with drilling plans in Sussex.
Photo: Daniel Foster via flickr