Drone pictures raise concerns over surface water at Cuadrilla’s Lancashire fracking site

pnr 170623 flood Katrina Lawrie

Preston New Road shale gas site, 23 June 2017. Photo: NED

Drone pictures taken yesterday show surface water at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road near Blackpool.

Opponents of operations at the site reported that four tankers had entered the site yesterday to collect rain water and another two had gone in by lunchtime today.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A spokesperson for the Cuadrilla said:

“I can confirm there has been no flooding on the site.  There was heavy rain for a several days recently which did collect in the well cellar and surrounding low area of site, however  the site has been designed to drain water in the event of such an occurrence and it is working as per design.”

But opponents of the company’s operations repeated concerns today that the area was prone to flooding and unsuitable for the site.

Preston New Road Action Group (PNRAG) said:

“It is quite astounding that Cuadrilla have stated that the Preston New Road site is not flooded, when drone footage demonstrates the absolute opposite. And this short period of inclement weather has followed a heatwave this week.

“Cuadrilla stated that the site didn’t flood following last year’s storms: a variety of demonstrative photography proved them wrong. One of our group’s land flooded heavily, with the run-off from the PNR site.

“Cuadrilla appear to have some discrepancy with reality at their exploratory site.”



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cuadrilla has said the wellpad is underlain by an impermeable membrane, designed to prevent  surface spills or contaminated rain water draining into the soil. Rain water that falls on the site is supposed to drain into perimeter ditches.

The area around the well pad, at Little Plumpton, is low lying. In January 2016, the fields flooded, along with many other areas in the Fylde. DrillOrDrop post

At the time, a Cuadrilla executive told the Blackpool Gazette that neither Preston New Road nor its other proposed site at Roseacre Wood had been flooded.

The company’s flood risk assessment, which accompanied the planning application concluded:

“Rainwater storage (attenuation) can be provided through storage within the voids off the granular fill and within the perimeter drainage ditch. During extreme events, surface flooding (to a maximum depth of 50mm) is permitted which provides additional storage capacity. The containment volume of pad has been calculated as 1,170m3 over the well pad site area of approximately 1.55ha.”

The Environmental statement, also part of the planning application, said the risk of increased surface water runoff at Preston New Road were described as “minor beneficial” or “negligible” and “not significant”

PNRAG gave evidence to Lancashire County Council on flooding in the area when the planning application was being considered. The group’s legal team addressed the issue at the public inquiry following Cuadrilla’s appeal against refusal of planning permission.

Friends of the Earth also raised concerns about the risk of flooding from the site to Carr Bridge Residential Park and Moss House Lane, which were already prone to flooding. FOE questioned how large volumes of waste water could be managed in times of heavy rain and localised flooding. Details

Updated 28/6/2017 to correct date of drone pictures from 23/6/2017 to 22/6/2017

60 replies »

  1. I like the drone pic. Learn a lot what the operation involved to understand the risk and the arguments better with visual.

  2. Of the (over) 9000 fracking related complaints recorded in PA state alone almost half are concerning water. Even while drilling is declining complaints are increasing. Great legacy. I think the industry marketeers now focusing on the UK should dedicate any ill-gotten gains (from the US) to helping clear up the aftermath over there. Don’t expect any leftover profits though.

  3. Strange comment PhilipP. I thought that MORE rigs were being mobilised currently in USA, and most recent production forecasts for the next few years showed a continuous increase, hence the concerns amongst OPEC and Russia? (And the reasoning behind reducing the Strategic Oil Reserve in USA.) That naughty Farren-Price of Petroleum Policy Intelligence indicating the US oil rig count had risen to almost 400 from a little over 100 in early 2016. Must be fake news, but my petrol station has just reduced prices again, so perhaps not. But then the “news” is so confusing at the moment. There was the media telling us how the US public were now so against Trump and the Democrats would start their comeback by storming Georgia. Gone quiet now, must have cancelled the vote?

    I complain to the missus all the time. She smiles (sometimes), and reminds me that a complaint needs to be verified before she will consider any reaction. Be great if we could set the same rules on the internet.


    US rig count up from 421 in June 2016 to 949 June 2017. Nearly all the increase is shale drilling (Oil & Gas). Drilling may be going down in PA but it is increasing somewhere? And they are getting much more efficient, take a look at the oil price….. The US is heading for well over 9 million bbls oil per day. Hardly an industry on it’s way out, ponzi scheme, finished etc. etc…… Canada is the same.

    “Given the increased drilling, EIA last week revised upward its overall US crude production forecast to 9.2 million b/d in 2017 and 9.9 million b/d in 2018.”

    • Another glut/bust on its way then. It will soon become unprofitable to drill. If Trump gets his way and deregulates nearly everything we could be heading for a global boom/bust to rival the late 20s – the biggest global economic crash in history. It’s just what unregulated capital markets do (learning from history).

      • You are correct in that the industry is alway in a boom / bust cycle. I worked through several of these and both up and down were difficult – why there was never really a flat period who knows? But demand is increasing so the industry goes on and on and on……

        Click to access bp-energy-outlook-2017.pdf

  5. Just remember PhilipP, fracking was accelerated under Obama! I know Trump is the target, but sometimes it is not exactly accurate.

    Not so much a glut, but the cartel will be hit. I like that idea. It means the Opec countries, and Russia, will have to find other sources of income, and the developing world can develop without fixed energy prices (at least, less fixed.) I suspect it will free up capital for other things, including alternative energy sources. (in other industries cartelling can result in a 10% fine of sales value-not profits-that is why a whistleblower always emerges within an investigation as they get let off. Now that could really redistribute some wealth!)

    It will make it unprofitable to drill in some places, but that has been the case for a little while. The oil/gas will stay there until/if the situation changes.

    It will certainly make cost of transporting oil and gas around the world a bigger consideration. Maybe producing from our own resources receives a costing benefit-heaven forbid! Maybe Jim Ratcliffe is a little more forward thinking than some think?

  6. The republican GOP (grand old party) with their preponderance of fossil fuel interests dominated the Congress and Senate during the Obama era and progressively knee-capped the Environmental Protection Agency.

    Reporting to CNN Money Eberhart, the GOP fundraiser said the White House displayed “hostility” towards the energy industry and made it harder to drill by adding regulations …. “The increased production is despite President Obama, not due to President Obama,”

    Jim Ratcliffe, by lying on air about there being no health or environmental issues over fracking in the USA, has treated the British public with contempt.

  7. The proximity of PNR to Springfields nuclear fuel manufacturing site and to Clifton radioactive landfill is frightening. This new petition asks the Health and Safety Executive to do their job and ensure that fossil fuel extraction is banned in the vicinity of existing (and proposed) nuclear installations. The consequences of seismic activity at nuclear installations would be on a whole different level.

Add a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s