‘Strict controls on drilling’ plea

PLANS: Francis Egan
PLANS: Francis Egan
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Countryside campaigners have demanded strict regulatory controls over any drilling for shale gas in Lancashire.

The Lancashire Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) warns of the need for strict regulatory control over plans for Cuadrilla’s new phase of exploratory drilling for shale gas in the Fylde.

Cuadrilla’s chief Francis Egan announced the move this week and the firm has now launched a major public consultation process.

CPRE campaigners claim there has been “serious environmental harm caused by shale gas exploitation in the US.”

CPRE Lancashire said it would be calling for transparency in planning procedures to ensure the locations were best placed and managed to minimise the landscape and environmental impacts.

In particular, CPRE will be concerned to ensure that the recommendations of the joint committee of the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering are implemented in full by the regulatory authorities.

It claims a recent study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the US, has found that the measured concentration of atmospheric methane in the region of the US associated with the petroleum industry is five times greater than previously estimated.

This result is strongly suggestive of high levels of fugitive methane and vented methane derived from the shale gas industry in that area.

The CPRE says it would mean that US shale gas – far from being a substitute for coal – is no less harmful than coal in its contribution to climate change.

A spokesman said: “CPRE Lancashire believes that only by strong regulatory supervision of the shale gas industry can environmental damage be avoided in the UK.”