Cuadrilla requests more time for fracking

Oil and gas producer Cuadrilla Resources is looking for an exception from a section of Lancashire’s Town and Country Planning Act that requires drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations to be completed within 30 months of their commencement date of the drilling of the first well. This would require the company’s Preston New Road site to be closed by the end of November 2019. Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan claims that by the end of November, the company will have only spent 21 months drilling or fracking on the site.

Though initial drilling began 30 months from November 2019, Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site was responsible for a number of seismic tremors that exceeded the Government’s limit, resulting in six temporary shutdowns. According to the Government, any tremor measuring 0.5 or above means that fracking must be temporarily paused while tests are run. In December 2018, the fracking operations caused a 1.5 tremor, following a series of nine other seismic tremors from the site on the same day.

Fracking has long been the subject of environmental debate. When Cuadrilla restarted its UK fracking operations in Lancashire in 2018, after a 2011 government-ordered moratorium on fracking due to property damage caused by seismic tremors was lifted, protesters attempted to block the site. They cited the environmental danger of earthquakes and fossil fuel emissions, both from the gas produced by fracking and the machines used to fracture rock and extract the gas. Cuadrilla was blocked by protesters from beginning operations in West Sussex in 2013, after threats were made against the exploration site.

Included in its request, the company cited The Committee on Climate Change Net Zero’s May 2019 forecast that by 2050, we will need approximately 70 per cent of the amount of natural gas used today, to be used for heating, transport and as a backup for renewable energies. Cuadrilla highlights the environmental benefit of sourcing this natural gas directly from the UK rather than using other fossil fuels to import it to the country. Lancashire City Council has yet to respond to the request.

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