Agency backs fracking bid at controversial county site

Protest: Campaigners near the proposed site at Preston New Road last year
Protest: Campaigners near the proposed site at Preston New Road last year
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Gas exploration firm Cuadrilla has welcomed the Environment Agency’s granting of environmental permits it needs to carry out operations safely at one of its proposed sites.

The permission comes ahead of a major three-day hearing by county council planners into Cuadrilla’s plans to “frack” at two Lancashire sites.

The EA permit relates to Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

The agency said it had over the last six months conducted a rigorous assessment of Cuadrilla’s applications and carried out two periods of extensive public consultation. The permits set out the conditions Cuadrilla must follow to protect groundwater, surface water and air quality and to ensure the safe storage, management and disposal of waste.

Steve Molyneux, environment manager for Lancashire, said: “After completing a rigorous assessment of Cuadrilla’s application and the public consultation responses, we are confident the permits issued will ensure people and the environment are protected. The right controls are in place to manage waste and the flaring of gas safely, and protect local water resources.

“We value the feedback received during the public consultation and will continue to work with the local community. Should Cuadrilla begin exploration, we will ensure the permit conditions are enforced.”

Francis Egan, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, said: “We are delighted that the Environment Agency has granted our permits for our proposed exploration site at Preston New Road.

“This is an important seal of approval from the regulator that the exploration of shale gas can be done responsibly.”

Cuadrilla’s applications will be considered from January 28 at County Hall, Preston.