Updated: Local surprise at Cuadrilla plans for monitoring boreholes at frack site


A group campaigning to prevent fracking at a field at Little Plumpton near Blackpool has said it is surprised at plans by Cuadrilla to drill four groundwater monitoring boreholes on the site.

The company has notified Lancashire County Council that it will drill the boreholes at the site next to Preston New Road – even though it does not have permission to frack. The site featured last month in a Bake-Off style anti-fracking protest by Emma and Sophie Thompson.

Cuadrilla has also said it plans to submit a similar notification for another proposed fracking site at Roseacre Wood.

A planning inspector is currently considering appeals by the company to frack at both sites. A decision by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is not expected until at least July.

Cuadrilla’s Chief Executive, Francis Egan, said:

“Whilst we wait for the outcome of our appeals for planning permission for both exploration sites, we want to ensure that if we do get the go ahead we are fully prepared to meet our obligations on baseline monitoring of the ground water. This will allow us to reassure and demonstrate to the local community and our regulators that the groundwater will not be adversely impacted by our operations.”

But this morning, Pat Davies, chair of Preston New Road Action Group, said:

[The group] is surprised to learn Cuadrilla intend to drill the water boreholes in advance of any decision by the Secretary of State about their appeal. The monitoring planning application for Cuadrilla at Preston New Road site was rejected by Lancashire County Council.”

Roseacre reaction

Elizabeth Warner, chair of Roseacre Awareness Group, said:

Francis Egan, CEO of fracking company Cuadrilla wrote to local residents today to inform them that Cuadrilla would seek to drill four groundwater boreholes around Roseacre Wood. He will do this because he wishes to allay residents’ fears!!! The fact that Cuadrilla has been refused planning permission for the fracking site and the outcome of their appeal (which will surely uphold Lancashire’s decision) is unknown, is apparently no barrier to their plans.

However, Mr Egan really cannot adopt a posture of concern for residents as he marches on.

  • Cuadrilla refused to listen to residents’ pleas for the company to properly assess the impact of noise from its proposed 24 hour a day drilling.
  • Refused to assess in any way the impact of all night lighting at the site.
  • Refused to assess honestly the impact on walkers, horse riders and cyclists who use Fylde’s rural lanes around the site.
  • Refused to use best practice to measure landscape harm preferring methods which minimised the damage which the site (with its rigs, security fencing, storage containers, 9metre wide access road and flaring stacks) will inflict on the countryside and……
  • Even ignored its own industry guidance  which expects Cuadrilla  to assess the impact on road safety of a 200% increase in 44tonne, 17.5 metre long articulated lorry traffic travelling along roads where two cars passing each other  must take care.

And yet, where it is required to monitor, as in groundwater, Cuadrilla adopts the pose (and given all that was exposed at the Public Inquiry that’s all it is) of responsible neighbour.

It is hard to choose which is the greater affront: the hypocrisy or the arrogance


The council refused Cuadrilla’s plans to frack at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood in June 2015. It also refused permission for a monitoring scheme at Preston New Road. But two months later, the government announced plans to changed the rules on permitted development rights to allow monitoring boreholes to be drilled without the need for planning permission.

Under the 2015 Infrastructure Act, the level of methane in groundwater has, or will have, been monitored in the period of 12 months before the associated hydraulic fracturing begins

Cuadrilla said the boreholes would be 30m deep and drilling for four boreholes would take 16 days using two truck mounted rigs. It said the rigs would be less than 12 m high.

A council spokesman said:

“Cuadrilla has notified the county council of its intention to exercise the company’s right to permitted development for water monitoring at Preston New Road.”

“This means that planning permission would not normally be needed. We will assess these proposals and respond to Cuadrilla within the statutory 28 days.”

“Gas by mid-2017”

In an interview with Reuters, Mr Egan said first supplies of fracked shale gas from Lancashire could enter the UK market by mid-2017. He is quoted as saying:

“If we get good results from the wells … gas could go into the system next year.”

“With the general environment and where the North Sea industry is going we are determined as ever to press on and secure a new gas source.”

Updated at 20.03 to clarify the requirements of the Infrastructure Act on groundwater monitoring.

Updated 9/5/2016 to include Roseacre Awareness Group reaction

41 replies »

  1. Muriel your childish name calling does you no favours, and in fact such behaviour shouldn’t be encouraged by displaying such posts.

    If you want a serious conversation then post an adult comment otherwise stop making a complete fool of yourself and the movement to which you support.

    • Childish name calling Michael Dobbie? Why, have you forgotten writing “It’s about time you crazies embraced the 21st century!” at the end of a prolonged rant on this very site?

      Why *are* pro-frackers so devoid of self-awareness and a sense of irony?

  2. Ahhhh John Hobson, hit a nerve there did I, you know the old saying dear John………………”if the cap fits wear it!”

    And do you have a problem with overseas companies attempting to encourage and wisdom share their expertise in the guise of progress, in the U.K.

    The answer of course is yes you do, you’d rather remain in the 20th century John Hobson. The world is a smaller place these days even for sceptics like you.

    • I very much doubt you could hit a barn door let alone a nerve Michael. I don’t have any problem in principle with overseas companies sharing expertise – why would I?

      Please stop telling me what I think and have a little try at doing some thinking of your own.

      • Mind you it would help if somebody could translate “And do you have a problem with overseas companies attempting to encourage and wisdom share their expertise in the guise of progress, in the U.K” into English for me. 🙂

  3. There goes that nerve again John Hobson, a little tender and raw huh?

    Far be for me to tell you what you think, how the heck would I know when you don’t even have a clue yourself 🙂

    • … and you were really accusing somebody else of childish name-calling Michael? Gosh!

      Slightly better English this time though – you must be trying harder.

      Is “Far be for me” your best attempt at “Far be it from me”?

  4. John Hobson, Ruth Hayhurst and Muriel, goodness me, and here I was thinking this site had some credibility in engaging some sensible discussion.

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