Work has begun at a controversial fracking site in Lancashire, it was revealed today.
Gas exploration firm Cuadrilla has announced the start of initial surface construction works on its shale gas exploration site at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.
Planning consent was granted in October 2016 and Lancashire County Council recently discharged the planning conditions and approved Cuadrilla’s associated management plans for the works.
The surface site, which is roughly the size of a rugby pitch, will take approximately three months to build and prepare before drilling can commence.
These early works will include a new site entrance, access road and well pad.
The top soil on the well pad will be cleared so a protective membrane can be installed to create an impermeable barrier underneath the site.
The sudden announcement by Cuadrilla seemed to take protesters by surprise, with just a lone man on a bike protesting at the site this morning.
Shale gas exploration was approved by the Governnment last year after being initially thrown out by county councillors.
Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla said: “The start of work on our new shale gas exploration site is an important milestone for Lancashire,
bringing new economic growth and jobs for the County. The work will be undertaken to the highest safety and environmental standards. The operations are also underpinned by comprehensive site monitoring programmes undertaken separately by ourselves, regulators and independent academics.
Twelve months from now we hope this work will prove the economic viability of this indigenous shale gas resource in Lancashire which will help improve energy security for the nation.”
Hannah Martin, campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “It seems premature that Cuadrilla has started work at the Preston New Road fracking site, against the will of local residents and the local council, when there are still two outstanding legal challenges.
“With yet more PR spin, Cuadrilla is trying to demonstrate positive momentum for fracking, but delays to their timelines mean they won’t start drilling until the summer.”