Fracking site visit before planners make a decision about West Lancashire development

County councillors will visit a proposed fracking site in West Lancashire before deciding whether the development can go ahead.

Suttons Lane, Great Altcar near Formby (image: Google Streetview)
Suttons Lane, Great Altcar near Formby (image: Google Streetview)

Members of Lancashire County Council’s development control committee will travel to Great Altcar near Formby to see for themselves the land on which Aurora Energy Resources wants to test for the presence of shale gas.

No date has been set for the visit, but the full application is expected to be considered by the committee in late November.

Permission for the 1.7 hectare site off Suttons Lane is being sought for a five-year period, after which the area would have to be restored.

If the application is approved, the company would be permitted to create an exploratory well and carry out testing at two boreholes. According to planning documents, the drilling phase of operations would take place around the clock over a 10-month period. Fracking itself would be undertaken between 7am and 7pm over a 60-day timeframe, followed by flow testing to determine the presence of any natural gas for up to 150 days.

The work would come in several stages, beginning with the creation of a new access track and the construction of a 7,700 square metre area of hard standing for the well site. Drilling would be to a depth of 3,000m and would require a rig 60m in height.

The last time County Hall considered fracking applications in 2015 – for sites proposed by energy firm Cuadrilla on Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood – a final decision was deferred on three occasions and the development control committee sat for several days before opting to reject them both.

The Preston New Road decision was subsequently overturned by the government on appeal in 2016, while the Roseacre Wood refusal was upheld earlier this year after a reopened planning inquiry.

Aurora Energy Resources was contacted for comment about today’s development.