A gas drilling company has rubbished claims its plans for fracking in Lancashire have stalled.
The BBC’s Inside Out North West Programme, which aired last night, said Cuadrilla Resources withdrew applications for radioactive waste permits that would allow the controversial shale gas drilling process – known as fracking – to go ahead.
The programme claimed Cuadrilla told the BBC, following recent changes in the Environment Agency’s guidance on permits and an ongoing review of its exploration programme, it had decided to ‘withdraw the previous permit applications for our sites in Lancashire’.
But Cuadrilla said it was in the process of preparing new permits.
A spokesman for Cuadrilla said: “Our plans have certainly not stalled. Following many months of consultation with the EA, we are in the process of preparing new permits and will provide further detail when we announce a number of proposed new exploration sites in the near future.”
According to a leading expert, the Environment Agency will not grant the special licences until it is satisfied a disposal route is available for the by-product of fracking, radioactive wastewater.
The radiation, which occurs naturally, is low level, but attracts stringent waste management rules.
Radiation waste advisor Dr Trevor Jones told Inside Out significant investment was likely to be needed before that happens, meaning plans for fracking across the UK could be delayed.
However, Cuadrilla said a report published by The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) stated the UK already has facilities in place to tackle the issue.
The spokesman added: “We welcome the report published this month by CIWEM, which states the UK already has the required treatment facilities to deal with the limited levels of flowback water associated with the current exploration stage.
“We do not envisage any issues with treatment capability or capacity for exploration.”
Anti-fracking protestors marched towards Barton Moss, Greater Manchester, during a protest on Sunday.
They gathered outside Salford Red Devils’ stadium carrying banners that said ‘shale gas, toxic legacy’ and ‘ban fracking now’ before marching to the site.