Fighting Fracking In 2017: Frackers Count Costs Of Community Resistance


  • Hyped breakthrough year fails to materialise
  • Even more delays/costs for fracking industry
  • 2017 began with major threat in Lancashire
  • Lots of industry activity but little real progress
  • Strong community opposition slowing industry
  • Number of major fracking frontlines emerging
  • Increasing number of threatened communities
  • 2018 likely to another long slog for industry
  • Burning though investment cash for little gain
  • This is a battle which we cannot afford to lose

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In the UK 2017 was supposed to be “the year of shale gas” and “Europe’s last hope for a fracking success”, but a year on the industry’s progress has mostly been glacially slow in the face of sustained, intense resistance from local communities. With hundreds of anti-fracking groups across the country the anti-fracking movement, on the other hand, has gone from strength to strength (see below for highlights), while the industry has been finding it increasingly difficult to drive its plans through massive community opposition.

Another string of predictions of a turnaround in 2018 are inevitable, the industry runs on over blown hype to try to scrap up the investment cash it needs. However, a look back at the last year suggests more of the same is all the frackers have to look forward to. Cuadrilla’s flagship plans for two large shale gas appraisal sites in Lancashire are typical of the industry as a whole. Scaled back, two sites down to one (Preston New Road) for now and that cut in half from 4 wells to just 2, hugely delayed (construction took over 6 months rather than the 2-3 allocated) and facing ongoing distruption and increased costs.

Cuadrilla was hemorrhaging cash even before it began work at Peston New Road, and the potential for community resistance to turn this project into Cuadrilla’s last stand is considerable. Across the country 2017 has seen a huge variety of creative resistance to the fracking industry, focused not only on the fracking sites themselves but also on the whole network of transport routes and support sites which supply them. Trucks have been stuck for days, or turned away entirely from Preston New Road to Kirby Misperton, and numerous suppliers have stopped working with the fracking industry as a result of community opposition over the year.

While Lancashire is a major front in this battle, others are equally important, especially North Yorkshire, the East Midlands and the South East. Wherever you live the overall strategy of creating delays and increasing costs in order to wear the fracking industry down, starve it of investment cash and eventually bankrupt it, is proving highly effective. In the end this is a fight to the death, either the fracking companies get to coat the country in tens of thousands of wells or we drive them in to bankruptcy, there are no other options.

Highlights of year: January February March April May June July August September October November December

January – Cuadrilla moves in on planned Lancashire fracking site

Contractors (AE Yates Ltd) working for Cuadrilla Resources have moved in on land where it has permission to construct the largest fracking development in the UK. Cuadrilla needs to construct an access road and large frac pad on fields north of Preston New Road before drilling can begin.

Local communities, massively opposed to this invasion, are mobilising to resist the 2 years of drilling and hydraulic fracturing Cuadrilla needs to not only demonstrate the it is technically possible to exploit the Bowland Shale but that it is economically possible in the facing of massive opposition.

February – Bolton fracking contractor quits due to community pressure & direct action

Quarry operators Armstrong Aggregates announced that it will stop supplying fracking company Cuadrilla Resources with materials for the construction of its shale gas exploration site at Preston New Road, in Lancashire.

This followed resistance spreading to support sites, with regular demos outside the primary construction contractor (AE Yates) yard in Bolton, and a number of subcontractors, with Armstrong Aggregates, Moore Readymix and Cemex, withdrawing from the fracking project during the month in the face of massive community opposition.

March – Police acting as “fracking industry private security” will cost millions

Lancashire Police has revealed that an extra £450,000 a month will be needed to help Cuadrilla construct its Preston New Road fracking site and that in the past financial year it spent £200,000 on top of its annual budget on facilitating fracking.

The fracking industry is being imposed on the people of Lancashire by the government and a private company, with the police used to force through this decision in the face of massive community opposition. This is a recurrent theme – police spending at previous fracking sites: Balcombe £4.4m, Barton Moss £1.7m, Upton £280K, Woodburn Forest £1m.

April – Communities respond to growing fracking threat in the Sussex/Surrey

Communities across the Weald are stepping up resistance to the grow fracking threat from the exploitation of tight oil. Fracking company UK Oil and Gas Investments (UKOG) is planning to drill a test well at Broadford Bridge near Billingshurst into the Kimmeridge Clay shale formation. Exploitation of tight oil would mean drilling hundreds or thousands of wells across large areas of Sussex and Surrey.

Activity in preparation for drilling is taking place on the site at Broadford Bridge, and UKOG plans to drill a test well into the Kimmeridge Clay shale formation which has previously been targeted at Balcombe, Horse Hill and Brockham.

May – Ineos begin fracking seismic survey in East Midlands

Seismic survey crews contracted by fracking company Ineos Upstream from military logistics specialist Arturius International have begun laying cables for an initial survey in the Chesterfield, Mansfield and Worksop area scheduled to last 6 months. Ineos plans to roll on surveying large portions of the 1.2 millions acres of its fracking licence areas in Central England over the next few years.

The aim of these surveys is to gather data to advance Ineos fracking plans, including selecting fracking sites for test drilling. With Ineos’s fracking plans calling for 10 shale gas wells per square mile, allowing Ineos to reach fracking production could see anything up 18,000 wells coating its licence areas in Central England.

June – Ineos threat: Stash of asset stripped fracking equipment found in Cheshire

Speculation that the largest set of fracking equipment in Europe has made its way into the hands of chemical giant, turned fracking company Ineos, has been confirmed after the equipment has been located on a former ICI chemical plant in Cheshire, now owned by Ineos.

The equipment including 30 frac pumps and all the other equipment needed to frac 2 separate production wells at one time, is now stored on the Rocksavage Works in Runcorn, Cheshire. The equipment was acquired at knock down prices from bankrupt Polish fracking services company United Oilfield Services (UOS).

July – Fracking Lancashire: New drilling phase of resistance underway

As the blockade of a convoy of fracking equipment at Preston New Road in Lancashire enters its third day, fracking company Cuadrilla Resources have announced that they are beginning to try to bring a drilling rig onto the site.

A new phase of the resistance to fracking in Lancashire is now beginning as Cuadrilla tries bring large amounts drilling equipment onto the site, and Lancashire communities try to make it as slow and costly for them as possible.

August – Fracking threat – Lancashire communities resist Cuadrilla’s drilling plans

Fracking company Cuadrilla Resources is continuing to try to erect a drilling rig on its site at Preston New Road in Lancashire. The VDD 370.1 Synergy I (PDF) rig owned and operated by German drilling contractor DrillTec GUT GmbH is being shipped in via in the east coast port of Immingham in Lincolnshire, on the Humber Estuary.

Cuadrilla is trying to bring large amounts drilling equipment onto the site, and Lancashire communities try to make it as slow and costly for them as possible. Equipment is being transported from other parts of the country (and beyond), in particular the North Sea oil industry hubs of Aberdeen and Great Yarmouth.

September – Drilling rig from Broadford Bridge fracking site occupied while stopped at services

A drilling rig targeting shale/tight oil at the Broadford Bridge fracking site near in Billingshurst, West Sussex, has been caught on the move while stopped at the Pease Pottage service station to the south of Crawley.

This marks a significant expansion in resistance to fracking in the Weald Basin, which threatens not only the local community but the whole of South East England. Exploitation of tight oil would mean drilling hundreds or thousands of wells across large areas of Sussex and Surrey.

October – North Yorkshire communities resist fracking at Kirby Misperton

Fracking company Third Energy is planning to carry out hydraulic fracturing tests on the KM8 well at its Kirby Misperton site in North Yorkshire, which it previously drilled through the Bowland Shale.

Communities across North Yorkshire and beyond have been resisting this threat for years, but now it has become much more tangible. These tests are just the first step in a process which could see thousands of fracking well spreading across North Yorkshire if not stopped. Third Energy’s is attempting to gather data which would allow it to gain further investment to push these plans forward.

November – Horse Hill fracking site occupied as tight oil threat grows

Communities in Surrey and Sussex are continuing to resist fracking in the Weald, and have occupied the Horse Hill site near Horley north of Gatwick Airport. This occupation marks a significant expansion in resistance to fracking in the Weald Basin, while threatens not only the local community around Horse Hill but the whole of South East England.

A specialist climbing team was needed to evict people occupying trees on the Horse Hill fracking site near Horley north of Gatwick Airport. Planned testing of the well at Horse Hill is targeting the Kimmeridge Clay for Shale/Tight oil, threatening not just local community but the spread of hundreds/thousands of wells across the whole of the Weald.

December – Trucks rolling to construct East Midlands fracking site

Trucks have begun rolling to construct the East Midlands first fracking site at Springs Road in Misson, Nottinghamshire. Frack Free Misson, supported by groups from across the region, is resisting the ongoing construction efforts.

Fracking company IGas Energy plans on drilling up to two wells, including one horizontal well. The area is in the Gainsborough Trough, a geological formation where the Bowland Shale is thought to contain gas that could potentially be extracted. However, exploitation would require coating the area in thousands of fracking wells.


With the continued mobilisation of active and organised communities the coming year can be equally successful in thwarting the fracking industry’s plans. If you want to start a group in your area see our Get Involved page or contact us at

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