Fracking protesters call for licence to be blocked

The fracking site at Preese Hall
The fracking site at Preese Hall
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Anti-fracking campaigners have written to regulators and politicians to question shale gas firm Cuadrilla’s licence.

They say that the time period for the licence to explore for shale gas using the controversial fracking process is set to run out and they are demanding that no further licence is granted.

Frack Free Lancashire haswritten to the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) and to Fylde MP Mark Menzies asking whether Cuadrilla has extended its licence, or are in breach of the licence terms and liable to forfeit it.

They pointed out that Cuadrilla was granted the licence area PEDL 165, including the Fylde, in 2008.

It allowed Cuadrilla to drill exploration wells at various sites in the area including at Preese Hall, Anna’s Road and Grange Hill.

Only Preese Hall was actually fracked – the process where high pressure water, chemicals and sand are injected into deep lying shale rocks to release natural gas trapped there. That was linked to two tremors felt across the Fylde in 2011.

The initial term was for six years, but extended by the government for a further two.

The term is now due to end on June 30.

The protestors added that if Cuadrilla wanted the licence to proceed to a second term the terms of the licence require them to notify their intention with at least once month’s notice. This period has now expired and Frack Free Lancashire has asked whether Cuadrilla has fulfilled its obligations, or whether its failure to keep to a legal agreement means the licence has now lapsed.

John Powney, speaking for Frack Free Lancashire, said there must be no negotiation.

He said: “Cuadrilla was already granted a two-year extension, inexplicably, because their incompetence caused them to trigger seismic action by drilling through a fault.

“They must have no further leeway. If they have not applied and paid for their second term by the legal deadline of May 31 we are calling on Mark Menzies to ensure their licence is terminated on June 30.

“We would oppose strongly any attempt to re-license that area.”

But Cuadrilla denies there is a problem and says it is following the procedures as they stand at the moment.

A spokesman said: “Cuadrilla can confirm that it has written to the Oil and Gas Authority regarding the second term of its PEDL 165 licence”.

A report by planning inspector Wendy McKay is due out next month into Cuadrilla’s bid to test frack at two sites on the Fylde.

A six-week public hearing was held this spring at Blackpool Football Club after Cuadrilla appealed against Lancashire County Council’s decision last June to refuse planning permission to drill and frack at sites at Little Plumpton off Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark will rule on the bid.