Reprieve for Cuadrilla’s wells “leaves door open to fracking” – campaigners

Opponents of fracking have described today’s withdrawal of an order to plug and abandon Cuadrilla’s Lancashire shale gas wells as ‘kicking the fracking can down the road ‘. More details

The industry regulator has given Cuadrilla until June 2023 to produce “credible reuse plans” for the wells at its Preston New Road and Elswick sites – or the decommissioning order will be reimposed.

Cuadrilla said this afternoon the moratorium on fracking in England, imposed after its operations caused earthquakes, must also be lifted if today’s suspension were not to be more than a cul-de-sac.

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site near Blackpool, 2 January 2019.
Photo: Frack Free Lancashire


Danny Gross, energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:

“Leaving the door open to fracking on the basis that it could solve the nation’s energy woes is simply wishful thinking. Fracking would do little to nothing for energy prices or energy security. What we need are real solutions that can help lower people’s energy bills, and fracking just isn’t part of that mix.

“Renewable energy, alongside a massive programme to insulate the country’s inefficient homes, is the quickest and cleanest way to bring down soaring energy costs.

“Communities that have stood up to would-be frackers in the past have already said they’ll do so again if the places they live, and love, are threatened. It remains incredibly unpopular across the country.”

“Time to consign fracking to history”

The campaign group, Frack Free Lancashire, said:

“We are astonished to learn that the order for Cuadrilla to plug the two wells at Preston New Road has been withdrawn by the regulator, in a move that appears to kick this can further down the road.

“The local community has already suffered enough uncertainty and it is about time that this matter was finally brought to an end. The current energy crisis should not be an excuse for further delays.

“Fracking cannot be done safely: after 11 years of failures in Lancashire, now is the time to consign it to history, rather than dragging this disaster on further.”

“Prolongs stress for local residents”

Susan Holliday, from Preston New Road Action Group, which opposed Cuadrilla’s operations, said:

“Today’s news is extremely frustrating. It is just prolonging the stress for local residents.

“As far as we are aware nothing has changed with the science regarding seismicity over the last 2.5 years. It is hard to imagine what Cuadrilla are going to achieve with another 12 months.

“How is this going to affect the current planning permission and its conditions, as currently the site has to be restored by April 2023? Any attempts to apply for an extension will be met by fierce opposition.”

“Suspension is a cul-de-sac unless moratorium is lifted”

Cuadrilla’s chief executive, Francis Egan, said:

 “I would like to thank the prime minister and the business secretary for seeing the light and realising – just in time – how absurd it would have been to force us to pour concrete down Britain’s only two viable shale gas wells in the middle of an energy crisis.

“But this suspension will have a cul-de-sac ending unless we now reverse the moratorium preventing us from using the wells (and others like them) to get shale gas out of the ground and flowing into British households.”

“Fracking restart will waste more time”

A Greenpeace spokesperson said:

“Trying to restart fracking now would only mean wasting more time when we have little.

“It will take many years to develop and if it ever gets produced, it will be sold to the highest bidder on the international market, with no impact on our energy bills.

“If the UK and Europe want to end their dependence on Russian gas, the quickest way to do that is by insulating homes, installing heat pumps and boosting renewables”.

“Is government still pro-fracking?”

Bill Esterson. Labour MP for Sefton Central, said:

“The government ‘says’ fracking is unsafe. Fracking won’t help energy security or cut bills. It would add to global warming. So why has the government given Cuadrilla longer to seal the fracking wells? Or is it that the government is still pro fracking despite their protestations?”

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