Cuadrilla has confirmed it has started the first frack of a horizontal shale gas well today at its site at Preston New Road near Blackpool.
DrillOrDrop will be reporting from outside the site. Anti-fracking campaigners are already gathering at the gate to show their opposition.
The operation, which was cancelled on Saturday (13 October 2018) because of bad weather, is the first high volume hydraulic fracture since 2011. That operation, also by Cuadrilla in Lancashire, was
linked to earthquakes.
Under the terms of the planning permission, Cuadrilla can frack from 8am-6pm Monday-Friday and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
The company will first frack the deeper of the two wells drilled at Preston New Road.
The well is at about 2,300m below the surface and the horizontal section runs for about 800m.
Cuadrilla will frack 45 stages of the first well, one each day, starting with the one furthest from the pad.
Stages are each 15-50m long and each will use up to 765m3 (765,000 litres) of hydraulic fracturing fluid and up to 75 tonnes (75,000 kg) of sand proppant. East frack is estimated to take 90 minutes, the company has said.
This reporting has been made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers
Update on charges
Lancashire Police confirmed that Esme North, of Devon, Henry Owen, of Oxford and David Eaton, of no fixed address, (one of the lock-on protesters) were charged with depositing a thing on the highway causing injury or danger and wilfully obstructing the highway. They were bailed to appear at Blackpool Magistrates Court on 30 October 2018. The second lock-on protesters was released with no further action.
6.40pm “All going according to plan”
Francis Egan, Cuadrilla chief executive, tells BBC North West Tonight
“Everything is going to plan. It’s a slow start. We’ve started injecting fracturing fluid into the rock. About an hour and a half worth of pumping and then we stop the pumping and we monitor the response of the rock and our engineers assess that.
“It will take about three months to complete the entire fracturing process for both horizontal wells.
“To get a site to a production level takes two or three years and then it’s producing and you won’t know it’s there.
“Natural gas should be a part of Green Week or Green Year because it is an ideal transition fuel from where we are now to where renewables are 20-305 of electricity but a lot less of energy, to where we need to get to.
“What we’re doing is actually the only way we’re going to make progress whilst “keeping people warm in their homes and cooking their food.”
6.10pm “Real threat to communities
Barbara Richardson, chair of Roseacre Awareness Group, the community group opposing Cuadrilla’s proposed second site at Roseacre Wood, tells BBC North West Tonight:
“I think it’s a real threat to communities and I think you’ll find that communities are waking up, all across England, to the what harm this will bring to their community, to their environment and to climate. I think you’ll find that the opposition is growing day by day.
“This is the beginning but I think we’re going to a new stage and I think you’ll find there’ll be far more opposition.”
6.05pm “Cuadrilla not wanted”
Susan Holliday, who lives close to Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site, tells BBC North West Tonight:
“I don’t want Cuadrilla there with their monstrous site. The local residents said no to the fracking and that’s how we remain.”
5.10pm “Government heading in completely wrong direction”
Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Europe and Food & Water Watch.
“Today’s first fracking operation in the UK in over seven years illustrates the UK government is heading in the completely wrong direction on climate change, while denying the rights of affected communities.
“The effects of climate change are already here. This summer’s drought had devastating results on European crop yields and threatened to lead to a UK food supply crisis. Unnatural disasters are occurring around the globe. It is deeply cynical that amidst these events we still talk about fracking in a country completely unsuitable for any form of it. The rights and health of people in Lancashire cannot be sacrificed for corporate interests.”
5.04pm Road contraflow lifted
Traffic flowing normally.
4.42pm Second surfer brought down
DrillOrDrop understands the two lorry surf protesters were charged with obstructing the highway and public nuisance.
4.28pm Surfer sits up and prepares to come down
4.23pm Lock removed from remaining lorry surfer
Police remove u-bolt from Henry Owen, the remaining lorry surfer. Esme North, the surfer who came down voluntarily, is taken by police into custody.
4.10 One lorry surfer comes down
Esme North, the woman lorry surfer, comes down voluntarily.
3.15pm Crane used in protester removal
A crane from the Cuadrilla site is used to stabilise the scaffolding tower. Local councillors ask for details of the police risk assessment
One of the protesters on the van roof, Henry Owen has been formally arrested. The paramedic and protester removal officer are on the top of the scaffolding tower.
2.30pm Drone flight overhead
2.30pm “Sad day for communities across the UK”
Barbara Richardson, chair of Roseacre Awareness Group, which opposes Cuadrilla’s planned at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road:
“It is a really sad day for this community and for all communities. However, to us it has focused attention on this issued and it is obvious that more and more people are making a stand against potentially damaging industry.
“The battle may have been lost but this is just the start of another campaign. We are in it for the long haul and we will continue to support Preston New Road.
“People in an around Roseacre are particularly concerned and fear for their way of live and health. The fact that fracking has started here has focused attention and made them realise is this is real and is happening.”
2.20pm “Nothing more important to do with your life”
Cllr Gail Hodson, a member of West Lancashire Borough Council, says:
“This is the terrifying day we have been dreading for seven years. But we are not going anywhere. You can’t un-know what you know.
“There is no more important things to do with your life at the moment. Whatever route Cuadrilla take, we will resist them and we will win. It is not for no reason that fracking is banned in Wales, Scotland, North Ireland and Ireland, New York State and various other countries.
“The government is underestimating the resistance to this unnecessary industry when the route should be be a renewable route. What is this government thinking apart from vested interests, pressure and infiltration?”
2.16pm “Fracking is sledgehammer through climate targets”
Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, says:
“The Government is backing frackers to put a sledgehammer through our climate targets. Just days after the UN warned we have 12 years to face climate catastrophe fracking has started in Britain for the first time in seven years. Marking the start of Green GB Week with the start of fracking is rank hypocrisy.
“This proves just how deeply the filth of fossil fuels runs through our political establishment. The Government has forced fracking on Lancashire after the community said no and now drilling has started before all their concerns have been fully heard or answered.
“Public support for fracking is in freefall and the anti-fracking movement will continue to go from strength to strength. To tackle the scale of climate breakdown ministers must commit to keeping fossil fuels in the ground where they belong, and investing instead in a renewable revolution for the future.”
2.15pm “Increasing numbers realise they have to do something”
Green Party Lancashire County Councillor, Gina Dowding, says
“It is a bad day for the war against climate breakdown. But the number fo people here shows this is just the start of the real campaign against this industry.
“The irony of the situation is that only a week ago the IPCC said just how serous was the need for action. Increasing numbers of people are realising they have to do more and are joining this campaign up and down the county.
“So when Nathalie Bennett was here on Saturday, she said ‘we are witnessing a climate crime’. When the police try to corral protesters, the real crime is taking place on the other side of the fence.
“I am absolutely confident that we will win because there is not even an economic argument for this industry anymore and the government and business are going to realise that quite quickly.”
2.10pm “Start of fracking in Green GB week”
Green Party MEP Keith Taylor links government-backed fracking with Green Great Britain week.
1.45pm “Deep disappointment”
A spokeswoman for the Preston New Road community group says:
“We are deeply disappointed that despite many ongoing concerns and challenges, the decision to progress fracking at this time has been taken.
“Over 100,000 people objected to this fracking application. In addition, our parish council, Fylde Borough Council and Lancashire County Council rejected the application. They had a duty of care to local residents and they fulfilled that duty. 
“The wishes and democratic decisions of our community have been ignored by the government in favour of an industry that does nothing to enhance our climate or environment.
“There are now hundreds of scientific studies that have already identified risks and actual harms resulting from fracking. The UK government have blatantly ignored them all.”
1.40pm “Resistance will only get stronger”
North West Friends of the Earth tweets:
“Local communities have led the movement against fracking in Lancashire and up and down the country. As much-delayed fracking sadly gets underway, the resistance to climate-wrecking fossil fuels will only get bigger!
1.20pm “Morally bankrupt”
Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth chief executive, said:
“The world’s leading climate scientists have published findings that couldn’t be starker: to have a hope of containing global warming we must take action now.
“Yet, ironically, on the same day the government boldly asks how it can reduce carbon emissions to zero, fracking begins. It is morally bankrupt to be heralding the start of a whole new fossil fuel industry when climate catastrophe awaits. You can deal with climate change or you can have fracking – you can’t do both.”
“They’ve been trying to frack in Lancashire for over seven years but people power has kept this dirty industry at bay. Now, because the industry has failed to take-off, the government wants to fast-track fracking and make it easier to drill across the English countryside. We’ll keep campaigning until fracking is stopped here and everywhere.”
1.15pm Cuadrilla says fracking has started
A statement from Cuadrilla says:
“Cuadrilla is pleased to confirm that it has started hydraulic fracturing operations at our Preston New Road shale gas exploration site. Hydraulic fracturing of both horizontal exploration wells is expected to last three months after which the flow rate of the gas will be tested.”
There’s a subdued response to the news outside the site. Campaigners cheer the protesters who are still on top of a van in the entrance. Some cars passing the site hoot in support of the opponents.
approx 1pm Road reopens
Sadie and Dave, the two people who locked themselves together outside the farm run by the owner of Cuadrilla’s shale gas site, are cut out and arrested. They are charged with causing a public nuisance. The road reopens with a contraflow.
11.30am Van surfer locks neck with u-bolt
Henry Owen, one of the campaigners on top of a van outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site locks his neck to the scaffolding structure as a member of the police protester removal team climbs the tower to talk to him.
10.45am Police cutting out lock-on protesters
A police protester removal team is releasing campaigners who locked-on outside the farm run by the owner of Cuadrilla’s shale gas site.
10.40am Camera crews interview protesters
10.39am Cuadrilla clarifies A J Lucas statement
A J Lucas made a statement early this morning that hydraulic fracturing stimulation had commenced. A spokesperson for Cuadrilla confirms
“I can see why it may be misinterpreted however they meant the HF operations ie including running the tools into the well which is part of the hydraulic fracturing operations to the industry. And we did start that on Saturday once the winds died down.
“I can confirm we did not actually fracture any rock on Saturday – that will start today.”
9.55am Protester removal team building scaffolding tower
9.40am Campaigner locks on
Esme North, one protester on top of a van blocking the entrance of Cuadrilla’s shale gas site, locks on to a scaffolding structure. The protester removal team begins unloading equipment.
9.20am Police protester removal team arrive
8.30am Four police vans at the site entrance
8am Permitted time for the start of fracking
Under the terms of planning permission, Cuadrilla can frack between 8am and 6pm at the Preston New Road site
7.30am Road closed because of protest
Police have closed Preston New Road between the turning to Wrea Green and the B&Q roundabout. They said this was because of the protest outside the landowner’s farm.
Van surfing protest outside Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site, 15 October 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop
7am Lock on protest outside landowner’s farm
Two people lock themselves together on one side of the A583, outside the farm run by the owner of Cuadrilla’s site.
Lock-on protest outside the farm of the owner of the Preston New Road site at about 7am, 15 October 2018. Photo: Richard Marshall
4.30am Lorry surfing protest at site gates
The campaign group, Reclaim the Power, said it was carrying out the protest. Charlie Edwards, for the group said:
“Today the government have launched their “Green Great Britain” week – a tokenistic attempt to hide a series of climate wrecking decisions such as expanding Heathrow airport and forcing fracking on the local communities.
“After granting permission to frack earlier in the summer, last week Energy Minister had the hypocrisy to say there was “no excuse” for inaction on climate change. So we’re here today to stop the start of fracking, and show Claire Perry what real action on climate change looks like”.
Henry Owen, one of the people locked on, said:
“Claire Perry has referred to the opposition to fracking as a ‘travelling circus’, but the only joke here is Cuadrilla and the government thinking that fracking at Preston New Road is a win for the industry.
“There’s no way that these companies will reach their requirements of thousands of wells when a single site has been met by this much local and national resistance. Fracking at Preston New Road is just a desperate attempt to snatch profit and save face as the industry dies. Local people have been leading the resistance for years. We know we’re winning and across the UK more people are still saying no to fracking”.
1.30am A J Lucas press release says fracking started
A press statement from one of Cuadrilla’s major funders, the Australian mining group, A J Lucas, said hydraulic fractures stimulation started over the weekend. This appears to contradict the statement made by a Cuadrilla spokesperson on Saturday (DrillOrDrop report).
This reporting was made possible by individual donations from DrillOrDrop readers