Cuadrilla aims to find evidence to lift moratorium, as campaigners hail Government U-turn on plans to make frack drilling easier

The fracking equipment at Cuadrilla's Preston New Road site
The fracking equipment at Cuadrilla's Preston New Road site

Shale gas exploration firm Cuadrilla has said it will  work with the industry regulator to prove that fracking can be carried out despite the Government calling a halt to the controversial practice.

The Bamber Bridge based company said that the Oil and Gas Authority’s report and others which prompted Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom to order a moratorium on Friday, was an “interim report” based on findings from the first well it fracked at Preston New Road.

It said the second well had yielded higher quality gas results and that it would work with the OGA to provide further detailed data to address earth tremor concerns “so that the moratorium can be lifted and the highly prospective Bowland gas resource further appraised and developed.”

A company statement in response to the indefinite halt called to UK fracking said: “In its interim summary report the OGA recommends that data from the Preston New Road 2 horizontal shale well should now be used to test and improve all four studies with work on maximum magnitude prediction given high priority.

“Cuadrilla Resources will now review these interim reports in detail and continue to work constructively with the OGA to provide further detailed data.

"Cuadrilla has shown that natural gas can be recovered from UK shale and that this gas, at its PNR site, is of extremely high quality.

"Cuadrilla has also stated that given the high calorific value of natural gas in the Upper Bowland shale it considers that the gas could flow directly into the UK’s extensive gas network without requiring additional treatment or processing, other than water separation."

Today in a ministerial statement, Andrea Leadsom also said the Government had dropped its controversial plans to ease planning regulations to make shale gas drilling a so-called "permitted development" allowing firms to set up drill sites without planning permission and also to make it a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.

Opponents of fracking welcomed the moratorium and the planning U-turns.

John Hobson from Frack Free Lancashire said: "We learned three things from the Written Ministerial Statement published today:

"One, the Government "will take a presumption against issuing any further Hydraulic Fracturing Consents"; two, they are no longer seeking to allow non-hydraulic exploratory shale gas development to be considered as permitted development; and three, fracking projects will not be classed as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP).

“Tellingly, a massive 98 per cent of respondents to the Government's consultation on the two planning issues were against the proposals.

“Reeling from these three body blows, Cuadrilla claim to be pinning their hopes on being able to provide compelling new evidence to address concerns around the prediction and management of induced seismicity.

“Amazingly they seem to be hoping that analysis of the data from the second well where they caused the 2.9ML quake will provide them with this evidence, when in fact this data can only further demonstrate that the much vaunted traffic light system failed in its job of protecting local communities.

“Given their 100 per cent record of provoking significant seismic activity on the Fylde each time they frack and and their proven inability to map local geology properly, this is nothing but useless bravado.

"It is time Cuadrilla packed up their remaining equipment and left, and it is time the Government committed to an outright ban on fracking for all our sakes."