Fracking firm ‘will quit UK’ without backing

Francis Egan, Chief Executive at Cuadrilla Resources
Francis Egan, Chief Executive at Cuadrilla Resources
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The boss of the company behind controversial ‘fracking’ gas extraction in Lancashire has warned it will walk away if its plans are not backed by the Government.

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla Resources, said the company would have “little alternative” than to quit the United Kingdom if it is not allowed to resume its work shortly.

It is expected an announcement on whether to allow the resumption of the process will be made by Energy Secretary Ed Davey by the end of next week, after an 18-month delay following two earth tremors in Lancashire.

Cuadrilla has been carrying out hydraulic fracturing, a process which sees gallons of water and a chemical fired into shale rock under the countryside to release trapped gas, for the past two years.

He told The Sunday Telegraph: “If we get a negative decision this week, we would have little alternative than to walk away.

“We have proven that there is gas and that it will flow, in the three years we have been doing tests, they have drilled 60,000 wells in the US.

“We don’t have infinite patience and our investors don’t have infinite patience.”

The Chancellor George Osborne, who told the Conservative Party’s autumn conference he would create tax breaks to boost shale gas, is expected to announce the creation of a new Office for Shale Gas in his Autumn Statement on Wednesday.

At the weekend, anti-fracking campaigners staged protests up and down the country including at Cuadrilla’s site at Anna’s Road, near Lytham on Sunday.

National campaign group, Frack Off, accused the Government of “plotting to short circuit local planning procedures” including directly giving the green light to applications to ensure “local communities have no chance to object.”