Cuadrilla is pushing ahead with plans for fracking in Lancashire with the announcement of a contract for preparation work at one of its sites. It has also made six commitments to the county – if shale gas were produced locally.
Campaigners against the company’s plans described the announcements as a PR offensive that ignored local residents. They said shale gas was not “wanted, needed or accepted” and they had “no intention of meekly stepping aside” for it.
Contract to Greater Manchester firm
Cuadrilla said this morning the £1.5m site build contract for Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, had gone to A E Yates Ltd, a civil engineering firm based in Bolton, Greater Manchester. Despite two legal challenges to the plans, Cuadrilla said work would begin early in 2017.
The Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid, granted planning permission for drilling, fracking and testing at Preston New Road in October. His decision followed the recommendation of the inspector at a six-week public inquiry but overruled the refusal in 2015 by Lancashire County Council’s development control committee.
Cuadrilla is currently negotiating with council planners over the conditions of planning permission while opponents are taking legal action to try to overturn Mr Javid’s ruling.
A fortnight ago, Preston New Road Action Group (PNRAG) announced it had lodged a statutory challenge (details) and this morning the anti-fracking campaigner, Gayzer Frackman, said he had begun proceedings against the Secretary of State (more details soon on DrillorDrop).
Claire Stephenson, of PNRAG, said today:
“We have absolutely no intention of meekly stepping aside to allow this industry to gain a foothold where it isn’t wanted, needed nor accepted.”
“Cuadrilla’s latest in a line of promotional sales pitches that wax lyrical about jobs and business, entirely ignores residential communities who will be forced to live with this dirty and insidious industry. We need to remember that a local and democratic decision to refuse planning permission for fracking in Lancashire has been deceitfully pre-determined and overruled by those above who have a vested interest in forcing this upon communities.”
Ms Stephenson described it as “quite astonishing” that Cuadrilla was pressing ahead in Lancashire “knowing they have no social licence”
“There are still outstanding, actionable health recommendations [made by Lancashire’s Director of Public Health] that are unaddressed and ignored, along with hundreds of peer-reviewed studies citing harm and environmental danger from proceeding with shale gas extraction, that in turn, have been ignored by the Conservative government.”
“Putting Lancashire First”
Also today, Cuadrilla announced that it was making six commitments to Lancashire should shale gas production be successful.
It said the Chief Executive, Francis Egan, was publicly signing commitments to:
Increase energy security for Lancashire and Britain
Carry out our operations to the highest safety and environmental standards and communicate openly
Work with local partners to promote Lancashire as a hub for the UK shale gas industry with new jobs and economic growth
Prioritise Lancashire suppliers and publish the amount we are spending
Support local training opportunities for young people including the National Onshore Oil and Gas College based at Blackpool & The Fylde College
Share the benefits of shale gas by sponsoring educational and sporting projects and through a local community benefit scheme
The commitments would, Cuadrilla said, be measured and independently audited. The results would be published quarterly, starting in 2017.
The company, which launched a new Lancashire logo today, said the results of moving its HQ to the county had been:
- Created 14 full time jobs
- Employed 9 contractors
- Created 2 apprenticeships or internships
- Spent £500,000 directly
- Contractors spent £164,000 on Cuadrilla’s behalf
- Spent 48,000 on local community sponsorship
- Spent £8,500 on local community donations
Figures for 1 January 2016-30 November 2016
Mr Egan said:
“Putting Lancashire First is about a way of doing business and we are committed to putting the County first with new jobs, economic growth and community benefits, promoting prosperity for current and future generations of Lancastrians. We have often spoken about how shale gas will benefit Lancashire as well as enhancing national energy security and now we are turning those words into action.”
“Ignorant of local communities”
A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire said:
“We find the latest PR offensive by Cuadrilla to be ignorant of the local communities they are willing to inflict themselves upon.
“The line about “sponsoring educational and sporting projects” is one we will be seriously looking into.
“Schools should not allow this industry to buy acceptance using children as pawns in this political and undemocratic nightmare, when schools across the Fylde have banned children from even discussing fracking. The hypocrisy is stark.”