‘Fracking is here – so let’s get on with it’

Worker create an opening in the hedge on the Preston New Road for the fracking drill pad at Little Plumpton.
Worker create an opening in the hedge on the Preston New Road for the fracking drill pad at Little Plumpton.
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Fracking is here and is going to happen – so let’s get on with it.

That was the message today from business leaders as Cuadrilla started work on the construction of its Preston New Road shale gas exploration site.

Protests have been staged at the site at Little Plumpton, but business leaders have reiterated their support for the fledgling industry in the UK.

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a significant day for Lancashire.

“The announcement means that local businesses are now in pole position to benefit from the shale gas supply chain opportunities that will ensue.

“The establishment of this new industry will, without doubt, have positive economic implications for the area in terms of investment, jobs and security of energy supply to our manufacturing base.

“There is a very clear moral and human interest imperative in promoting sustainable development, of which a well-run and properly regulated shale gas industry can be a part. We owe it to future generations to make a success of it.”

Lee Petts, managing director of Preston-based environmental consultancy, Remsol, that has worked closely with Cuadrilla over the years, says it’s an important step in finally understanding what part Lancashire shale gas could play in the UK energy mix.

“I’m pleased to see this work start. It’s clear to me that a new source of gas closer to home, substituting for imported liquefied gas and used instead of coal in electricity generation, will help reduce climate change emissions.

“It’s important for people to note that it’s been fully three months since planning consent was granted, during which time Lancashire County Council has been busy satisfying itself that Cuadrilla has discharged all of the planning conditions attached to its consent, demonstrating that despite the approval being granted from Westminster, our local council still maintains a strong oversight role.

“The preparatory construction works that will now be undertaken are going to be similar to those seen just up the road at the Barrett and Story Homes developments.”

Approval for fracking was granted by the Government despite Lancashire County Council turning the plans down.

On Friday local protesters staged a slow walk in the road ahead of a truck working for gas exploration company Cuadrilla as it left the site.

Claire Stephenson, from the Preston New Road Action Group, said: “Lancashire residents will continue to exercise their rights to peaceful protest on a daily basis at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site for the foreseeable future.”

But pro-fracking support group Backing Fracking said: “This is just the beginning of the behaviour we can expect to see at this location and which we can confidently predict will escalate to large-scale confrontations with police and security personnel.”

Yesterday the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee was hearing evidence from Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The session was part of the Committee’s inquiry into ‘The Economics of UK Energy Policy’.