Aurora announces fracking plans in west Lancashire


The licence area held by Aurora near Formby and wells already drilled (purple circles). Source: UK Onshore Geophysical Library

Aurora Energy Resources has told residents it is planning to drill and frack two wells near the west Lancashire village of Great Altcar, on the edge of Formby.

In a letter dated yesterday, the company’s managing director, Ian Roche, said Aurora had begun the first stages of applying for planning permission for the proposed site on Altcar Moss.

He said the company had submitted details to Lancashire County Council of proposals to drill and frack a vertical and separate horizontal well at the site.

The wells would explore for gas in carboniferous age rocks, the company said.

Aurora said the site, which appears to be between Higher Moss and Middle Moss Lanes, was approximately 850m from the nearest properties.

Mr Roche said:

“We appreciate that the proposed development may raise some questions from local residents and businesses.”

He said the company would host a public exhibition later this month. He added that Aurora would provide a regular residents’ newsletter, establish a community liaison group and a dedicated website.

The letter said Aurora had set up a Freephone number for inquiries: 0800 170 1650 and an email address:

Scoping request

Aurora said it had submitted a scoping request to the county council to find out what environmental assessments were needed to accompany a full planning application.

The scoping request, published on the Downholland Parish Council website, gives more details of the proposal

  • The horizontal section of the second borehole will be 1,500m
  • Both boreholes will be fracked and then separately flow tested
  • The horizontal borehole may undergo an extended well test of up to 90 days.
  • Any employment linked to the development will be time-limited and unlikely to be significant
  •  The site is in Flood Zone 3 area, classed as having a high probability of flooding
  • There is seven protected wildlife sites within 2km of the proposed wellsite.

The exploration licence which includes Altcar Moss, PEDL164, was acquired by Aurora under the 13th licensing round in 2008. The PEDL is immediately south of Cuadrilla’s Lancashire exploration areas. Since 2008, Aurora has added three further licences in the area and now describes itself as a leading player in the exploration for new oil and gas resources in North West England.

Great Altcar

Wells already drilled near Great Altcar wells (purple circles). Source: UK Onshore Geophysical Library

According to a map from the UK Onshore Geophysical Library, PEDL164 has seen more than 50 wells drilled already, many of them in the 1950s.

Four wells were drilled to the east and south of  the village of Great Altcar in 1956-1957.

In July last year, DrillOrDrop reported that Aurora was carrying out seismic testing inland from Southport and Formby. Link

At the time of writing, a petition calling for Sefton district, which includes Great Altcar, to become a frack-free zone had attracted more than 400 signatures.

21 replies »

  1. According to Aurora Energy Resources last published accounts to Dec 2016, it has negative net worth of £0.9m, equity (= what its shareholders stand to lose if it goes bust) of £6.2k, and lost almost £2.0m in 2016. Its accounts were not audited. On basis of this information, OGA should not grant a licence to drill, as it fails at least 2 of OGA’s financial viability criteria.

    [Comment corrected at poster’s request]

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