Protesters gather in Preston ahead of Lancashire fracking decision

Fracking protesters outside County Hall, PrestonFracking protesters outside County Hall, Preston
Fracking protesters outside County Hall, Preston
Protesters were gathering in Preston today for the start of long-awaited hearings into whether to allow fracking for shale gas to go ahead in Lancashire.

Gas exploration company Cuadrilla is applying to drill at two sites - a move fiercely opposed by many campaigners.

Today Lancashire County Council’s development control committee was considering the first of two applications in hearings that could last up to four days.

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The bid to frack at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, has been recommended for approval. But the plan for Roseacre Wood near Elswick is recommended for rejection, mainly on traffic grounds.

The meeting at County Hall was expected to be lobbied by local protest groups, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

Shale gas supporters say the industry could bring a jobs boom to Lancashire. But opponents say there are risks of earthquakes, water pollution and other problems.

Oil and gas companies Cuadrilla Bowland and Cuadrilla Elswick have applied for planning permission to develop two new sites to explore for shale gas by drilling, hydraulically fracturing, (fracking) and testing the flow of gas.

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Separate applications have also been received for a series of boreholes to monitor for seismic movement and water quality.

Cuadrilla’s applications for Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood include:

• An application for drilling, fracking and extended flow testing of the gas with a direct connection to a local gas transmission pipeline, if extended testing is thought to be viable and is carried out at each of the sites.

• It is proposed that the sites will have up to four vertical bore holes each with lateral boreholes extending from them, within a defined quadrant as projected to the surface.

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• Associated applications have also been submitted for monitoring arrays. The monitoring arrays are designed to monitor seismic movement and water quality.

• The applications are accompanied by Environment Statements which have been produced as a result of Environmental Impact Assessments. The EIA relates to both the site development and the monitoring array even though they are separate applications.