A convoy of 26 vehicles delivered fracking equipment to Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool at about 4.45am today.
The company said it opted for an early morning delivery to “minimise disruption for everyone using Preston New Road”.
Cuadrilla said last week it intended to frack the second well at the Preston New Road site by the end of August 2019.
Projects and operations director, Laura Hughes, said in a statement:
“A range of specialist equipment has now been safely and effectively mobilised onto site. This was intensely managed by the operational team at Cuadrilla to ensure safety – not only for our own team but also other users of Preston New Road.
“I’m pleased to say the remobilisation was carried out without incident or inconvenience to our neighbours.”
But the delivery has prompted complaints from local people. One neighbour of the site and a member of Preston New Road Action Group said:
“The noise was horrendous. I’m not easily scared but around four this morning the dogs were in melt down. The noise, which I now know was from the site, was absolutely outrageously loud. I know sound is amplified at night but, after living here for 25+ years, this was horrendous.”
One resident recorded the convoy going past her house at dawn. Another, Richard Marshall, said:
“It’s not true that Cuadrilla brought in the convoy without neighbours being disturbed. People were disturbed and frightened by the noise. We are angry and upset for them and all of us.”
There were also complaints about heavy-handed policing. Yesterday, four people were arrested outside the site.
Frack Free Lancashire said:
“Once again, we’ve seen gratuitous violence and aggression from Lancashire Police in order to facilitate a private company’s deliveries.
“Campaigners were pushed into bushes and restrained whilst the police closed the road both ways to help Cuadrilla get their kit on site.
“One woman needlessly arrested yesterday, was restrained with a wrist lock on the floor sought medical attention this morning before making a full complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
“Cuadrilla does not yet have permission to proceed with fracking at PNR2 as their interpretation of the geology is currently under legal challenge by Preston New Road Action Group against the Environment Agency.”
Jamie Peters, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said:
“Cuadrilla are going to try and start fracking again, showing complete disregard for a community that has resoundingly rejected them time and time again.
“When Cuadrilla fracked last year there were 57 earthquakes in two months, and they had to stop work five times because of the size of the earthquakes.
“The writing is on the wall for this polluting industry as the world responds to the urgency of climate breakdown. It’s time Cuadrilla pack up their bags, clean up the site and move on, for the sake of the community and the planet.”
Cuadrilla is allowed to bring in convoys of up to 30 lorries nine times during the project under revised terms of its planning permission for the site at Preston New Road near Blackpool.
The traffic management plan (TMP) specifies that deliveries should be from 7.30am-6.30pm only. But it says vehicles can arrive or leave outside these hours in an emergency or “to ensure the continued safe operation of the facility”.
The TMP also specifies a “preferred route” for deliveries to be used by all heavy goods vehicle during all stages of the project. The route can, however, be changed if there is an obstruction or threat to safety.
According to the TMP, traffic should leave the M55 motorway at junction four and travel east along the A583 to the site. This morning’s convoy travelled west along the A583.
Under the terms of the planning permission, the company has until November 2019 to drill, frack and test four wells at Preston New Road.
Fracking at the first well, from October-December 2018, induced more than 50 small earth tremors. At least two tremors were felt by local people. Cuadrilla confirmed in data released earlier this month it had stopped fracking prematurely four times because seismicity exceeded the 0.5ML limit in the regulations.
The pro-fracking group, Lancashire for Shale, said in a statement today:
“In recent months, there has been endless speculation in some quarters that suggested Cuadrilla had given-up on its ambitions in Lancashire.
“Today’s remobilisation of fracking equipment shows this is not the case and that it remains committed to producing natural gas here whilst creating jobs and supply chain opportunities.”
DrillOrDrop invited Cuadrilla and Lancashire Police to comment on complaints about the convoy and policing. This article will be updated with any response.