Updates and pictures from fracking inquiry site visits


The blimp balloon marks the top of a 53m drilling rig proposed by Cuadrilla for its shale gas site at Preston New Road

A group of residents opposed to shale gas launched a blimp balloon this morning at the proposed site of Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking wells to mark the height of the 53m drilling rig.

The action coincided with site visits by the inspector at the public inquiry into the shale gas applications for Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood.

Preston New Road Action Group (PNRAG) said it wanted to display an accurate height of the rig so that the inspector would be able to see the top during her visits to viewpoints of the site.

Pat Davies, Chair of PNRAG, said:

It is critical to us that the Inspector and the nearby community appreciate the height and dominance that a drill rig of 53 metres would present.”

“In order to demonstrate the level of intrusion, a blimp seemed to be one method of accurately indicating just how high a structure of 53 metres represents, particularly as it will be on what is currently an agricultural field.”


Balloon before launch


Balloon in position at site of proposed wellpad at Preston New Road before launch


Blimp balloon at full height, marking the top of a 53m drilling rig at Preston New Road where Cuadrilla wants to frack for shale gas


Access to the site prevented without Cuadrilla’s approval


BBC TV used a drone to photograph the site

nearest house

The inquiry team visiting one of the nearest properties to Preston New Road

Balloon 4

The balloon (between the two nearest street lights) marking the top of a 53m rig from the corner of Preston New Road and Foxwood Chase

Notice 1

Sign outside a house opposite the Preston New Road site

WP_20160224_079 (1)

Pat Davies and Lancashire County Councillor, Paul Hayhurst, interviewed outside the Preston New Road site this morning


This afternoon the inquiry inspector is visiting the proposed route for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) delivering to the Roseacre Wood fracking site.

Lancashire County Council refused the Roseacre Wood application on traffic grounds. It was particularly concerned about a section of the route along Dagger Road which is not wide enough in places for a car and an HGV to pass.

DAgger Lane sing

Local people have complained that the verges have been deliberately damaged to widen the road. Cuadrilla said five proposed passing places would make the road safer.

Dagger lane verges

Verges on Dagger Road

The inquiry has heard that the roads around Roseacre Wood are used by horse riders and are not suitable for HGVs.

lorry on roseacre road 2

Lorry approaching the Roseacre Wood site on Roseacre Lane this afternoon. This lorry is smaller than many predicted to deliver to the site.

Horse rider on Roseacre Road

Horse rider on Roseacre Road

Cuadrilla proposes to sign an agreement with the MOD allowing HGVs to use a route through the Inskip defence site to avoid Wharles. The inspector was taken through the Inskip site on the way to Roseacre Wood and Roseacre.

Inskip entrance

Entrance to the Inskip defence site

Entrance to Roseacre Wood

Entrance to Roseacre Wood site

The inquiry team also visited Roseacre and Wharles. People in both villages told the inquiry team last week about how the proposed fracking site had divided people. They also complained that the final decision would be made by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Roseacre sign

Sign in Roseacre

Wharles sign1

Sign in Wharles

The inquiry has heard evidence about the impact of the fracking sites on the landscape. In Wharles, the inspector visited Rose Cottage, where parish and district councillor, Heather Speak, would have a view point of the Roseacre Wood site.

Heather speak1

Cllr Speak (centre) talking to the inquiry inspector (left)


Heather speka 2

The inquiry team comparing photo montages of the Roseacre Wood site with the real thing from Cllr Speak’s backgarden

After the site visit left, Cllr Speak said of fracking:

“If they must do it, they should do it in the North Sea and not next to villages where people live”.

This evening, Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, told the BBC’s North West Tonight:

“The important thing to remember is that it is temporary. The planning application period is for six years but the rig is only actually up for 14 months out of that six year period. So undoubtedly you can see it, you can see the structure but it is only there for a relatively short period of time. And after it is taken down the site will be restored to back to what it was before.”

“You can’t really beat getting out there and seeing what the sites are like, what the access is like. hearing the concerns that people have and seeing it for yourself.”

The inquiry hearings resume tomorrow (Thursday 25th February) at 10am. DrillOrDrop will be posting live updates throughout the day.

This report is part of DrillOrDrop’s  Rig Watch project.  Rig Watch receives funding from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. More details here


23 replies »

  1. TW we are producing our own…it’s in the North Sea. Predicted reduced demand plus increase in renewables and the landing of the reserves we already have will keep us supplied for decades to come.
    Renewables are always working, they do not stop. The mix of solar and wind generation complement our seasons.

    • Renewables are not always working. The swing from capacity to zero is regular for both wind and solar. High pressure and nighttime = zero. This is why huge on demand standby generation is required. This is normally gas but shortfall is being taken up by diesel and or paying huge amounts to some consumers to switch off when demand exceeds supply ( not windy).

  2. I think you will find that country wide there will always be some renewables generating. Whilst I appreciate it gets dark and the solar panels do not indeed work without daylight, offshore wind is almost constant due to the weather patterns off our coasts. It is interesting that shale supporters never give the excellent generating outputs of renewables on most days.

    ‘On demand standby generation’ is needed for all sources of generation. When we were just powered by coal, nuclear and oil, power generation had to be switched on and off to meet demand peaks. This is not new or a failing of renewables.

    There may always be a need for mixed generation sources. However, as clean wind and solar generation technology improves we will see better returns and increased generation of power from these sources. This will reduce our need for, and reliance on fossil fuels and stretch our North Sea reserves for future generations, meeting any shortfall for ‘on demand standby generation’.

    Shale gas is not needed in the mix. we have enough North Sea reserves to cover the transition to our inevitable renewable generation future.

    • If you check dukes and or Templar you will find that wind, including offshore, generates close to zero for longer periods than you may want to believe. I am away now but I recall that wind generally generates something 80% of the time which means close to zero 20% of the time. Offshore wind load factors are 35 to 40%, onshore 25 to 28%. Load factor is the % of the total rated amount which should be produced in a year with continuous optimal wind. Wind farms do produce at full capacity in the right conditions but the LFs show that for a lot of the time they are producing well below the average for long periods. Cold periods of high pressure over northern Europe have resulted in negligible wind generation over the whole of northern Europe. The best renewables back up is pumped storage hydro aka Norway and BC in Canada. This could easily displace fossil fuels however our geography in UK will not allow further expansion of pumped hydro. The reason Denmark has the highest electricity prices in Europe is due to its over reliance on wind. Excess wind electricity is purchased cheaply by Norway and used for pumped hydro storage. When wind and coal don’t meet demand in Denmark the Norwegians sell them hydro at inflated prices. UK is planning on tapping into Norwegian hydro with a an interconnector in a few years time but we will still need gas. If oil prices remain low we will see some north sea oil fields shut in and we will lose a lot of associated gas. We will therefore have to import more or use shale gas.

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