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 »

    • The blimp illustrates well the height of possible monstrous noisy onshore wind turbines and yes of course they are built in groups, often on the top of hills in rural areas and will be with us permanently if allowed whereas the Cuadrilla rig is only temporary. Frack on and keep my grandchildren warm and our environment safe. Think.

  1. There must be thousands of kilometres of roads like these that take large farming machinery, farm produce, heating oil delivery etc ad there are no issues anywhere else. They also have horses/cyclists/ walkers, and there are normally no issues. Why should there be here? Talk about ‘first world problems’ eh!

    Oh, and the supposed ‘geological issues’ from fake discredited ‘Professor’ David Smythe and his nonsense ‘paper’ have been totally shredded as rubbish science by people such as Professor (a real one this time) Paul Younger, Dr James Verdon, Terry Engelder, and Rob Westaway. These are practicing experts, and they are scathing in their criticisms of B and B expert, David Smythe. ‘Fundamentally flawed’. (Engelder) ‘Advocacy based science’ (Verdon) ‘poor understanding’. (Younger)
    Basically rubbish!

    See discussion on

    • On the subject of geological issues I presume you are familiar with the findings in the official review of the report on the issues that occurred at Preese Hall.

      Click to access 5055-preese-hall-shale-gas-fracturing-review-and-recomm.pdf

      It would appear that there are serious issues relating to Natural Faults and hydraulic fracturing.Here are a few of the many stated in the report.

      “the fault intersected the well bore and fluid was directly injected into the fault during treatment”

      “there is only a limited understanding of the fault system in the basin. Although some large scale structures have been mapped,earthquakes in the magnitude range of 2 to 3M require only a relatively small rupture area,and so can occur on small faults”

      “There might be other comparable faults at resevoir depths throughout the basin”

      “We (The British Geological Survey) are not convinced by the projected low probability of other earthquakes during future treatments”

      “The analyses failed to identify a causative fault,and detailed knowledge of faulting in the basin is poor. In the present state of knowledge it is entirely possible that there are critically stressed faults elsewhere in the basin”

      “There is no evidence to suggest that the causative fault is unique and knowlege of faulting in the basin is poor,so it is quite possible that there are many such faults throughout the basin”

      I am up to page 5 of 26. I think we can safely say there are serious geological issues.

      • Ken Wilkinson – the bitch fest between Prof Smythe and those he has publicly criticised is quite amusing. Academia really is a vicious place isn’t it?

        But if you think B&B owners shouldn’t express opinions on fracking please do have a word with your pal Lorraine 🙂 (At least Smythe is consistent in what *he* says

        I imagine the phrase “fake discredited ‘Professor'” might be actionable. If Prof Smythe needs your address for legal service it’s not hard to find on the web 🙂

        If you lived anywhere near here you would know the parlous state of our rural roads and you’d be able to answer your own question “Why should there be here”.

        Adding 30 or 40 tonne tankers do a huge amount more damage than the equivalent number of cars (e.g . It will also add congestion, accident risk, pollution and noise.

  2. Were the enquiry team ferried around in HGVs to get the sense of scale or better still travel by foot, pedal power or riding horses?

    That would put the issue into perspective.

  3. Wow the anti Fracker must sit on the farm all day watching the rig from the same angle everyday for 3 years so that’s why they don’t want their view interrupted.

  4. The photo of alleged road-widening reduces everything in this blog to utter farce. Ruts in verges are common at all times and in all places especially in wet weather. I cannot take either Ruth or the protest groups with any seriousness

    • Please would those in support of a shale gas industry in the UK comment on the drill or drop posting titled Gas limited role as bridge to low carbon future. This new research by the UK Energy Research Centre would need to be discredited in order to justify the need for any new fossil fuel industry.

      • I have explained many a time. There will be few jobs during exploration which is under consideration now. Only if commercially viable gas is found will there be numbers of jobs and that will depend on the amount of gas found.

      • No Michael – you have never explained – merely told us we are all stupid not to believe you “there will be many jobs to fill and more for locals. It should be screamingly obvious.” I asked you, if it is so “screamingly obvious” to tell us how will be employed many per rig / pad in production, how many central (head office / non pad based direct) jobs there will be, and what multiplier you would use to estimate indirect / induced jobs and why. Finally what percentage of direct pad related jobs would you estimate will go to locals and why. Clearly is it not so “screamingly obvious” that you can back up your suggestion with any real evidence.

  5. I believe the photos show the current state of the roads, demonstrating that even before the HGV traffic has increased there has been cause to drive off the highway, damaging the verges.
    However, the inquiry will have travelled the route to see the bottlenecks and positions that are to be designated as “passing places”. It may have even been caused by the previous heavy vehicles.
    I note that the company have already acknowledged that there will be additional heavy traffic associated with their operations, or have I missed something?

  6. Yes it is limited because gas will only replace coal for electricity generation which is about 30% at the moment I think and so it won’t be a 100%. And won’t replace renewable or nuclear. And used as back up when renewable not working. But that gas we still have to buy from somewhere. So why not produce our own and keep domestic supply secured.
    Gas is used for heating and industrial uses such as fertilizer production and chemical feeding stock. More advanced process is nanotechnology carbon tube and carbon fibre.

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