Cuadrilla unveils new fracking sites

SHALE gas firm Cuadrilla Resources has announced plans for up to eight exploration wells at two new sites between Blackpool and Preston.

In a statement the firm said it will seek planning permission to drill, hydraulically fracture – or frack – and test the flow of gas from up to four exploration wells at each site in Roseacre and Little Plumpton.

Cuadrilla said it had started to speak to residents living near to the new sites.

Chief executive Francis Egan said: “We’ve been working hard to assess our site options and have undertaken extensive technical and geological analysis. As a result of this work, we have decided to focus on just two sites at this time.

“This will allow us to reduce the potential impact on the local area during exploration while still gathering the important information we need to determine how much gas could be recovered. We’re committed to being a good neighbour and to talking with the community at every stage of the process.”

A scoping report outlining Cuadrilla’s proposed approach to environmental assessments for the new sites will shortly be submitted to Lancashire County Council.

As part of Cuadrilla’s review of sites, the company has decided not to apply for permission to carry out fracking at its Grange Hill site. The existing well will now be used as the base for a seismic monitor.

Late last year Cuadrilla pulled out of the Preese Hall site, pictured, and the Anna’s Road site in St Annes. It has also conducted tests at Singleton and Becconsall, near Banks.

Fracking involves pumping large amounts of water, mixed with chemicals, underground at high pressure. When this water is pumped into the ground a significant amount is lost and between 10% and 70% returns to the surface as “flowback”. This can also contain natually occuring radioactive brine.

Last week the BBC discovered Cuadrilla had withdrawn applications for radioactive waste permites following recent changes in the Environment Agency’s guidance.