Cuadrilla’s fracking site should be abandoned – campaigners

Anti-fracking groups in Lancashire are calling on the government and regulators to order the permanent plugging and abandonment of wells at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site.

Cuadrilla’s mothballed fracking site at Preston New Road, near Blackpool, February 2022.
Photo: Maxine Gill

The groups also said the site should be restored to farmland following the reinstatement of the moratorium on fracking in England last week.

The moratorium was lifted by the short-lived Liz Truss government in September 2022. But that decision was overturned last week by the new prime minister, Rishi Sunak, on his second day in office.

The moratorium was introduced in November 2019 after Cuadrilla’s fracks at Preston New Road caused a series of earthquakes. Work at the site was suspended following the largest earthquake, in August 2019, which measured 2.9ML and was felt across the region.

Claire Stephenson, of Frack Free Lancashire, said:

“We welcome the government’s U-turn decision to retain the fracking moratorium put in place following the 2019 earthquakes caused by Cuadrilla’s fracking activities on the Fylde Coast.

“There is zero new evidence that fracking can be done safely, and plenty of evidence to the contrary.

“We now call for the government to instruct Cuadrilla to plug and cap the wells at Preston New Road and restore the site to green fields.

“It is heart-breaking that our community has suffered with this industry hanging over us for so long. It’s clear that dirty energy fracking has no place in any community, nor towards any meaningful energy contributions in the UK. We will continue to pursue a full ban on fracking.

“It’s time for Cuadrilla to end their unwelcome imposition in Lancashire, in line with their planning permission which ends in April 2023, and finally leave our community for good.”

A written ministerial statement last week said the government would maintain the moratorium until “compelling new evidence is provided which addresses the concerns around the prediction and management of induced seismicity”.

A scientific review by the British Geological Survey, commissioned by the Boris Johnson government, concluded that forecasting large fracking-induced earthquakes was a “scientific challenge”.

Susan Holliday, of Preston New Road Action Group, said today:

“Now that the moratorium has been reinstated, Cuadrilla should commence their decommissioning of the site at Preston New Year Road.

“In 2019, the then Oil and Gas Authority said that they would not approve any new fracking plans unless there was new evidence to show fracking could be done safely. The British Geological Survey report has shown that there is no new evidence.

“The logical conclusion is that Cuadrilla has reached the end of the road with the site at Preston New Road, so they should now plug and cap the wells as they should have done earlier this year.

“According to their current planning permission, the site is to be restored by April 2023, so they need to be getting on with it. Over six years of disruption is more than enough for our community.”

Tina Rothery, of the Lancashire Nanas, said:

“The disruption and anxiety that this company has brought to our community, must come to a full and final end.

“Cuadrilla has caused enough harm already and we need to be certain they will thoroughly clean up their mess and get the hell out of Dodge…once and for all.”

In February 2022, the industry regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), ordered Cuadrilla to permanently seal and abandon the two shale gas wells at Preston New Road.

Equipment was moved onto the site in early March 2022. The deadline to finish the work was 30 June 2022.

But following industry lobbying, the NSTA withdrew the order at the end of March 2022. It gave Cuadrilla until the end of June 2023 to come up with “credible” plans to reuse the wells.

36 replies »

  1. It was always a folly to construct a fracking site at only 300 metres from residents at PNR, Little Plumpton:

    ”Accumulating evidence links proximity to fracking sites with exacerbation of asthma, childhood cancers, and adverse birth outcomes, including preterm delivery, low birth weight, and congenital defects.”

    Pascual F, Fracking and Childhood Leukemia: New Evidence Supports Greater Residential Setbacks Environmental Health Perspectives 2022,130:9 CID:094002

  2. Leave well alone (pun intended), we will need the gas in the next few years as Wolrd prices of LNG will increase due to the demand caused by the sanctions on gas from Russia.

    • Yes but such a small amount of gas, and that is if it is even commercially viable, it would have no impact whatsoever on gas prices. And based on industry’s own figures, assuming it is viable, calculations have shown only 5% of U.K. consumption would be produced in five years. There are better options and solutions available and global temperatures and climate change really are at a critical point. We must reduce emissions and fossil fuel use.

      • So katt ‘What are these rabbits out of the hat’, (better solutions?) We get this activist / protester, push backs all the time, better options. better solutions, what has Greta done since 2018. Show us the way, Let you be our light!

        Preach Critical Point, Glues Hands to Tarmac Motorway, Splashes a Priceless Work or Art, Sprays Orange Paint on A Government Building!! Nuclear Energy, Wind Turbines and Wave Machines, Yet More Bubble and Squeak!!

        These technologies also cause HUGE manufacturing emissions, and are NOT Manufactured in the UK, And Like US, and Aussie Fracked Gas are Imported!

        Rolls Eyes!!

          • The reasons UK exports gas to mainland Europe and to Ireland have been given on this site numerous times by those who have worked in the field. Interesting that there is a trend for some to continue to display their ignorance.

            Other than that trade, UK has no current ability to export gas as it has no facility to turn gas into LNG. Mind you, if UK had loads of new gas, then I am sure an export trade could be developed, providing all that taxable revenue and maybe a larger windfall tax to return more money to every energy bill payer in UK. Exports are good, they help the balance of payments, that helps the strength of Sterling, that makes imports of other materials/goods cheaper-such as solar panels!

            Or, as they are saying in the USA: (Rystad)
            “Although relatively elevated for the (US) domestic market, US and European price differences are so wide producing and shipping US gas across the Atlantic, even allowing for the pricey liquefaction process, is still economically advantageous”

            With the current situation in Ukraine, is anyone seriously suggesting that UK should apply an export ban to Ireland or mainland Europe? It could. Other countries have applied export bans for gas. Importing gas is pretty secure? NOT.

            Has anyone noted the recent warnings about gas supply to UK from Norway being indicated as risky as Nord Stream supply? Probably, yes, but better not admit that and just attempt to muddy the waters.

            Richard, your maths. ignore the £160B required to be added for new nuclear to try and provide cover for when the wind doesn’t blow, and the sun doesn’t shine. Not coming from some mythical rich guy, coming to every energy bill. I know the costs have only recently been allowed to see the light of day, but they are out there now and your attempt to ignore them are futile. When those costs are added the true costs of unreliable renewables will not look so clever, even without considering the costs of energy produced from nuclear. Then, the next lot of figures will creep out which cover the disposal of the nuclear waste, as that can is coming to the end of the road.
            Mind you, arithmetic is not your strength, is it Richard? Last time I looked the dividend income was pretty decent for the major oil and gas companies, but not so good for Tesla!

            • Your arithmetic is fine, Richard.
              Collyarithmetic – “When those costs (of new nuclear) are added the true costs of unreliable renewables will not look so clever, even without considering the costs of energy produced from nuclear.” So you should add the nuclear costs, note the difference, and deduct them again, confident that the difference noted will remain the same?

              • Ah, an arithmetic denier. But from someone who tried to redefine “fact”, and the king of “interpreting” expert opinions after death, as expected 1720. Like schoolboys walking home trying to excuse the Fail comment on their arithmetic homework. Will only fool others in the Fail category.

                No, 1720, as per the cheap puppy bought in the pub, you should take the amount handed to the wide boy, and then add the veterinary bills that accrued. That is the full cost of the puppy. An expensive dog.
                In your fantasy world 1720 you might try and comfort yourself that the money paid to the vet. was nothing to do with the purchase of the puppy, but that would still be pure fantasy. Others who don’t have your problem with fact would know otherwise.

                • All of which provides a crystal clear interpretation of the self-contradictory sentence of yours which I quote!
                  Once again, I rest my case.

          • And it’s still not wiping its face, and is hugely government subsidised with no profit being made! 😆🙄

    • If we were really so concerned about having a ‘home grown’ supply of gas for energy security, why don’t we just keep all the gas we currently produce ? Why are we exporting any of it ?
      We all know the gas is not ‘ours’ it’ll be sold on an international market at international market prices to whoever will pay the most for it.
      Fracking! As you well know, will not bring down UK energy costs or improve our energy security.
      You should never have invested so much of your money in fossil fuel shares. You backed the wrong horse there!

      • Just as you say Richard, factions of the governing party have been stating that we must have ‘home grown’ gas for years.
        However, ONS Data and analysis from Census 2021. Trends in UK imports and exports of fuels:

        ”3.A closer look at gas:
        ”The UK primarily exports gas to Ireland”
        ”The UK EXPORTED £3.4 billion of gas in 2021, INCREASING by 167% from £1.3 billion in 2020.”

        Some mistake here surely ?

  3. Your response to KatT, Martin, reminds of another of your worthwhile contributions to the discussion – above: “ Interesting that there is a trend for some to continue to display their ignorance.”.
    With clinching arguments like those you display above, why did you not stand for your party leadership?
    What about actually answering the point? To wit – we cannot as a planet continue to resource fossil fuels and must replace them with what is available, investing in less-global-warming alternatives in such a way as to render these more available and more quickly.
    Your concentration, as I have pointed out before, on the cost of everything and the value of nothing does as much justice to your powers of ratiocination as Collyarithmetic to your arithmetical prowess.

    • Nope, that is not my point 1720. You have accidentally (lol) included me in the “we’s” to “interpret”.

      I can see that fossil fuels can continue to be resourced and then decarbonized. Huge investment is underway and huge expertise exists within global fossil fuel companies to manage and accelerate that. They are also less-global-warming alternatives, 1720, and you can continue using your plastic!

      However, COP27 will see the shouting and the sneering at these companies and then demanding their help when the effluent continues to hit the fan. Which is not the best way to get them to help so what they do will be at their leisure and cost of humanity. So, 1720 perhaps you might do better to consider costs rather than believe humanity will write an open cheque forever. They will not, especially with repayment of Covid costs to be heaped upon the younger generation.

  4. Dr Frank – check Dukes to understand UK gas imports / exports. John Powney never understood it but hopefully you will.

    Click to access DUKES_2022_Chapter_4.pdf



    UK Demand 861 TWh
    UK Production 364 TWh (record low)
    Imports 561 TWh (+17% on 2021) – 160 TWh of this was LNG
    Exports 76 TWh (41 TWh of this was to Ireland)

    So the UK is a net importer of gas – 497 TWh in 2021.

    If The UK didn’t export gas to Ireland via the Moffatt Interconnector Ireland would have huge electricity and heating shortfalls as they produce insufficient volumes of their own gas, have no LNG import terminal (canned by the Greens) and no other pipeline connection. The UK imports gas to cover Ireland’s consumption.

    • Thanks Paul for the update.
      ONS states: ”Almost half of the UK’s gas exports in 2021 were to Ireland (47.2%) …and the Netherlands (28.2%).”

      But perhaps we should improve insulation in all UK homes ?

        • By making it too expensive for people to afford?

          Well, that’s going well, and everyone is so happy about it?


          Reference your comment of 10.58am AT that is false. Where gas used by UK comes from matters. I don’t know if you are aware of the Windfall Tax in the UK, but it is currently levied on N.Sea production, but not on imports. That levy is being collected and then paid to UK energy users, so it matters and is happening.

          You should really be more careful about accuracy.

          • Complain to your government MFC. Not to Me.

            I’m glad you admit things are not going well following your prescription.

            The windfall profiting companies are evading tax because of their investment in new O&G projects, of which you seem to approve. Interesting you raise that. I don’t know why you are not lobbying the O&G companies and government to implement the c015 commitment to MER, as amended later to recognise zero blah blah for UKCS production. Why not employ your talents to better effect than castigating folk who want to protect their communities from equally or more madcap schemes onshore? WE – not you, have suffered tremors, and will be open to health problems until these wells are capped. We care about the environment. We care about the energy costs which are F all – I repeat F ALL, to do with fracking. get a life. Why continue flogging a dead horse? [Edited by moderator]

            • [Edited by moderator]

              Here is some more arithmetic for you. 65% tax on some N.Sea oil and gas produces a lot of tax. Add 40% tax to new N.Sea oil and gas and even more is achieved. No UK tax is raised on imported oil and gas. UK will still use more gas than it produces for many more years, unless it discovers and utilizes more UK gas.

              Please explain if high rates of tax can be raised on N.Sea gas and returned to those paying energy costs it could and would not apply to on shore gas? I fear you have become confused with media reports of record profits for certain oil and gas companies and then whinging about them not paying much UK windfall tax, without identifying that just might be because they are international companies who make little profit in UK, but a lot elsewhere. [Edited by moderator] November will identify where more tax is being raised in UK. If Rishi thinks raising more from individuals is okay and missing opportunities to raise it from companies, he will not last long. There are a lot more people worried about their gas bills than the numbers worried about it coming from their backyards and that is even before the support is withdrawn for many, probably in April.

              No, it was not my prescription to claim energy security that was no such thing, based upon an increase in renewables and more imports and more pipelines and more interconnectors that have no security of supply inherent. There are others on DoD who have used that holey bucket, AT, but not me.

              • Much tax is raised through UKCS oil and gas. Much of it may be lost to the UK when Scotland achieves independence.

                As an individual, I am liable for UK tax irrespective of where in the world my income is generated. If companies select to be “domiciled” in the UK it is only fair they adhere to similar rules. But answer me this – if BP and Shell profits are generated elsewhere, what on earth gives them the right to avoid paying UK tax by investing in UK oil and gas projects?

                Rishi’s missus knows well about tax loopholes. So do the oil and gas companies.

                The money side is again a red herring. You can’t flog the energy security and the tax situation simultaneously. This is not in any event relevant to the issue raised by the original article.

                Your horse is dead. get over it. I go back to what I said before. We in the Fylde want, and need, these useless redundant wells permanently safely sealed and abandoned. It really is as simple as that. No-one with any nous, understanding and compassion can argue otherwise.

    • Once again this comment illustrates how much we are tied in to our EU neighbours, particularly Ireland and the neighbouring nations from whom we import gas. Once again this illustrates why UK fracking will never reduce our domestic gas prices because it is an international market to which we are inextricably tied. It matters not where the gas imported or exported was produced. Just as for every household. We get our gas from the same pipe as our neighbour even though we “buy” from a different “supplier”.

      The conclusion is false, UK doesn’t import more gas to cover Ireland. The Irish exports only cover 7% of UK imports. The 2022 report only confirms we must reduce UK consumption, an increase which drives the figures you quote.

      • The conclusion is correct, we import more than we export as we don’t produce enough to satisfy consumption. The numbers are facts. We are a net importer of gas and will be for a long time. Ireland is a minor player in this, as you have pointed out AT.

        Good that we all agree that the UK is a significant net importer of gas, and the export issue is an irrelevant red herring. If we didn’t export gas to Ireland our imports would be 7% lower.

        Reducing consumption will obviously help reduce imports, unfortunately it went up in 2021, by nearly 6%? Perhaps a post Covid issue? But if UK production falls faster than consumption imports will rise…..

        • I’m sorry but you stated as your final line, “The UK imports gas to cover Ireland’s consumption.” This is a total distortion, and unforgivable as it reads. As deceptions go, I guess we have come to accept these . Please be more careful in future.

          The reality is better stated that the UK imports a small fraction of its imported gas for Ireland as a facilitator because of the pipeline facilities.

          • Perhaps the clue is in Dr. Frank’s quote (to which I was responding):

            ”The UK primarily exports gas to Ireland”
            ”The UK EXPORTED £3.4 billion of gas in 2021, INCREASING by 167% from £1.3 billion in 2020.”

            The number of times “why does the UK export gas” comes up on this BB shows how little people know about our energy industry.

            Shale gas extraction will not happen onshore UK for various reasons, but there are potentially still undiscovered resources offshore, perhaps in the carboniferous. The new offshore licencing round and new technology will determine if there are additional commercial UK reserves.

            Only 8% of the UK’s imported gas in 2021 came from the EU (more likely via the EU). Norway is not an EU member state.

            • This is largely irrelevant here, bandying words about import export figures. The real point, Paul, is surely to focus on the main issue here. Fracking is a dead duck, as is clear, or should be, to anyone with any understanding of political and economic reality. Those of us living locally therefore want those wells safely capped, plugged stuffed, whatever and abandoned so they will never threaten their local community with future risk.

    • Maybe Paul Tresto, fossil fuel expansionists, and Uk shale gas supporters believe Francis Egan when he stated on Sky TV that the Uk gets half of its piped gas from Russia. Why would you not believe the CEO of such an experienced shale gas company?
      The Dukes report indicates we export 35TWH to Europe. That is over 10% of Uk domestic usage. If the Uk didn’t export to Europe we would have an extra 10% to cover our own electric and heating should any shortfalls arrive. If no shortfalls appeared we could reduce our imports.
      Hopefully now you can understand the need to reduce unnecessary exports as I know there are many fossil fuel supporters who are fearful of being plunged into darkness and believe pensioners will freeze to death through shortfalls.
      If we are bound by contracts to supply Europe then we can all be grateful that we are part of larger energy market which means a diverse and secure energy system.
      An ideal time to maximise on our huge renewable potential and energy saving projects.

  5. Still at it JP? Perhaps you are just scaremongering. A better way of putting it is that we re-export 13% of the gas we import; more than half of this goes to Ireland who would be in serious trouble if we didn’t. In 2021 we exported / re-exported 76TWh of gas to Europe.

    Reduce our exports / re-exports to zero will reduce our imports by 13%; it does nothing for the UK energy situation. But causes problems for our neighbours.

    Not sure why you continue to go on about Egan and Russia? In 2021 we only imported 6% of our imported gas from Russia, as LNG. Presumably now it is close to zero.

    I expect that if we didn’t export to Europe we may lose our right to import from Norway. Then we would be in serious trouble…..Norway supplied 41% of total UK usage for 2021.

    • I think it is not JP who is scaremongering. He is quite right to draw attention to the scaremongering by Cuadrilla to imply we are as a country over-reliant on Russian gas. This has been an argument of the pro-frackers which has been totally discredited for years. For Egan to bring this up again, this year, suggesting this is a reason to restart fracking, is another appalling comment on Cuadrilla’s credibility and honesty. There was one reason for this. They wanted the government to halt the sealing of the PNR wells. Finally we have an issue raised with relevance to the OP. And no wonder we in the Fylde are angered and now again seeking action.

      You yourself point out the minimal reliance of the UK on Russian gas. My figures differ from yours. You say 6% of imports. My figure says 4%. Historically 3%. If we assume that is gifted to Ireland we are not at all dependent on Russian gas. And a year later, the figures for oil and gas imports from Russia have gone down again.

      The reason we have long memories re Cuadrilla is because our memory of the fight against this cowboy outfit was permanently scarred by Cuadrilla’s deceptions , bullying and lies.

      • The data is in the spreadsheet 4.5 via the link below. Perhaps I got my sums wrong, either way it is insignificant and always has been, despite what Cuadrilla may claim. You can see where all our imported gas comes from. It does seem that LNG imports from Russia were increasing year on year from 2017 – 2021 but this year will be different. Perhaps some of the gas via the Belgium interconnector comes from Russia but it is still insignificant (Belgium does not produce gas).


        I am no fan of Cuadrilla; I always thought the concept should be tested, it was, and it failed due to seismicity. End of story. No reason why the wells at PNR shouldn’t be plugged and abandoned. If Cuadrilla were smart they will have left the wells plugged below surface so all they have to do is cut the wellheads off and set a surface plug. The current status with a well schematic will be available somewhere so you can check if interested. It would have been over a lot earlier if the protesters hadn’t delayed progress but there you go. Based on the reported flowrates you could leave the wells open and there would be no environmental impact.

        They should have fracked Roddlesworth near Chorley where Amoco drilled in 1987 – much more likely to have had success…..

        • ” and it failed due to seismicity. End of story.”
          In 2013 George Osbourne declared “Shale gas is part of the future, and we will make it happen,” When that statement was made George was fully aware that fracking caused earthquakes. They were part and parcel of fracking in shale. It was nothing new.
          No. what destroyed the Uk shale gas ‘industry’ was the dedication and resolve of well organised communities who proved to the nation that Uk shale gas was dangerous, dirty, expensive, not needed or wanted.
          End of story.

          • Dream on JP. All the protestors did was cause the program to go on for longer than needed.


            “After reviewing the OGA’s report into recent seismic activity at Preston New Road, it is clear that we cannot rule out future unacceptable impacts on the local community.”


            “Fracking was suspended at the end of August after activity by Cuadrilla Resources – the only company licensed to carry out the process – at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire caused a magnitude 2.9 earthquake.

            The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said that, after the OGA concluded that further seismic activity could not be ruled out, “further consents for fracking will not be granted” unless the industry “can reliably predict and control tremors” linked to the process.”

            • According to George Osbourne and David Cameron fracking was going to happen even with the full knowledge that fracking causes earthquakes. But it isn’t happening. A hard pill for some to swallow but well organised communities destroyed the ‘industry’.

              • Stuck on repeat JP. “Well organised communities” ensured the process to test the concept took a lot longer than it needed to. The result of this extended duration no doubt increased the operator’s costs, but also increased the tax-payer related costs and extended the disturbance and stress to the local communities over a much longer period.

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