Shale oil & gas developer Cuadrilla today announced plans for exploration at two new sites near Blackpool.
The company intends to apply for planning permission to drill, hydraulically fracture and test the flow of gas from up to four exploration wells on each of the sites on Lancashire’s Fylde coast, one at Roseacre Wood and the other at Preston New Road.
Cuadrilla’s announcement follows its confirmation last month that fracking operations will be unnecessary at its controversial Balcombe site in West Sussex, and an announcement in December that it was abandoning its Preese Hall site in Lancashire.
Fracking by Cuadrilla at Preese Hall was blamed for the two minor earthquakes in Blackpool in 2011 that led the government to suspend all shale oil & gas development in the UK until December 2012.
Cuadrilla still hasn’t cleared up the mess from the botched fracking operation that caused earth tremors
Friends of the Earth north west campaigner Helen Rimmer
For its two new Lancashire sites announced today, Cuadrilla said separate planning applications would be made to install two seismic arrays to monitor the hydraulic fracturing process.
Potential for “seismic events” also appears to have played a role in Cuadrilla only naming two new sites in the North West of England, rather than the six announced last summer.
“We’ve been working hard to assess our site options and have undertaken extensive technical and geological analysis,” said Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan.
“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.”
Environmental campaigners reacted to today’s announcement by accusing Cuadrilla of failing to have properly dealt with the fallout from the failed Preese Hall operations.
“Cuadrilla claims to be a good neighbour, but it still hasn’t cleared up the mess from the botched fracking operation that caused earth tremors only a couple of miles from one of the proposed sites,” said Friends of the Earth north west campaigner Helen Rimmer.
“Fracking isn’t the answer to our energy problems. Experts say it will do little to tackle climate change - and even Cuadrilla has said it won’t cut energy bills.”