‘Still questions over shale gas’

Early stages: Jennifer Mein
Early stages: Jennifer Mein
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The leader of Lancashire County Council has said it is still unclear how big the shale gas industry could become, even if Cuadrilla gains permission to extract shale gas from under the countryside.

Coun Jennifer Mein was speaking after the gas exploration firm unveiled plans to carry out fracking at two new Lancashire sites.

Cuadrilla has earmarked new exploration sites in Roseacre and Little Plumpton on the Fylde.

The applications will have to be considered by county councillors – and protests are expected.

It could be a year before work on up to eight wells begins in earnest. Drilling was put on hold in 2011 following two earth tremors on the Fylde.

Coun Mein said: “There is a considerable level of interest in Lancashire’s shale gas reserves and our development control committee has to consider any applications we receive for further exploration according to the planning regulations in place. As exploration is still in its very early stages, it’s not yet clear whether, and on what scale, a shale gas industry could develop and therefore difficult to say what the impact upon local people could be.

“However, I understand that many people have concerns about fracking taking place near where they live, and for many Lancashire people there are currently a lot of unknowns.”

The company has set aside £100,000 per well for the benefit of the local community for each well that is hydraulically fractured.

Cuadrilla has already informed local residents of the plans and an environmental impact report will be prepared before planning permission is considered.

Local residents have been invited to find out more about the proposals at two open days later this month.