Lancashire Communities Continue To Resist Cuadrilla’s Fracking Plans
As an inquiry opens into Cuadrilla’s long stalled plans for a second fracking appraisal site at Roseacre Wood in Lancashire, the fact that work at its first site Preston New Road site is 8 months behind schedule and counting shows that official permission alone guarantees nothing if local communities are mobilised to resist. The current crop of fracking companies (with the possible exception of Ineos) have a limited budget to prove the viability of fracking, if they are to gain the billions of investment needed to take fracking into production. That viability isn’t just about geology, but also but also hinges on the costs relating to levels of opposition from local communities.
Fracking company Cuadrilla Resources is continuing to try to drill two shale gas wells on its site at Preston New Road in Lancashire. It is 15 months since Cuadrilla began to construct the site in January 2017 and it has just announced that it has completed the first well at the site and is moving on to drilling the second. According to Cuadrilla’s original plan (see chart), as laid out in the planning application, the first well should have been completed 7 months after construction began and should have taken 5 months to drill (after 2 months of site construction). Instead construction took 7 months and drilling the first well took 8 months. These huge delays (which are burning through Cuadrilla’s limited cash from investors) are a testament to the impact of continuing resistance from local communities.
Cuadrilla’s original plans called for the drilling and hydraulically fracturing 4 horizontal wells at the Preston New Road site. After site construction had dragged on into its sixth month due to the level of protests outside the site, Cuadrilla quietly scaled back its initial plans from 4 wells to just 2, with a new prediction that it would have fracked the wells and be flowing gas by early 2018. Now with the first well only just finished and daily protests outside the site continuing Cuadrilla is now saying that it will be ready to begin hydraulic fracturing of the 2 wells in the second half of 2018. Continued resistance is likely to delay the project further, and time is money.
Meanwhile Cuadrilla’s second planned test site at Roseacre Wood has not even got past the planning stage, with a new planning inquiry starting today. Roseacre is much more typical of the location fracking sites would need to be positioned in a production scenario, where thousands of wells coat a region drilled at a density of 8 wells per square mile. Unlike Preston New Road, which is on an A-road close to a motorway junction, access to Roseacre involved pushing tens of thousands of fracking trucks down small country lanes, which is the main focus of this inquiry. Of course the planning system firmly focuses on the minutiae of individual sites, rather than the question of what these individuals tests are leading to, on which local communities are not even consulted.
These sites (Preston New Rd and Roseacre) in Lancashire are Cuadrilla’s flagship fracking test project, and are the most advanced fracking tests in the UK currently planned. They involve drilling and hydraulically fracturing multiple shale gas wells. They involve up to 20,000 vehicle movements in and out of the each site, as fracking trucks bring equipment and materials and dispose of waste, to and from support sites across the country. Take a look at our factsheet and find out what support sites could be near you.
Cuadrilla’s speculative business model means that they need good results from these test to get more investment, but that includes not just what they find under ground but the level of resistance they encounter. That is where communities across the country come in – by making Cuadrilla’s fracking plans as difficult, slow and expensive as possible!
Check out our factsheet about Cuadrilla’s plans, your community may be threatened with impacts (e.g. fracking waste being dumped or transported through your community) even if you live hundreds of miles from Lancashire.