Crane at Cuadrilla’s fracking site

A crane has been installed at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road suspended fracking site, near Blackpool in Lancashire.

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site, near Blackpool, 21 December 2022.
Photo: Preston New Road Action Group

The company has not told the local community liaison committee or residents about any work at the site.

DrillOrDrop asked Cuadrilla about the purpose of the crane. It did not respond.

The most recent published drone images of Preston New Road, from February 2022, showed the site still contained a flare stack, proppant and containers.

Preston New Road, 26 February 2022. Photo: Maxine Gill

Preston New Road has been largely mothballed since fracking was stopped by the then Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) in August 2019, when operations caused a 2.9ML earthquake.

A crane was last installed at the site in early March 2022 to plug and abandon the two horizontal wells, on orders of the OGA.

The instruction was withdrawn later that month following lobbying by the shale gas industry and a small group of Conservative politicians. Cuadrilla now has until June 2023 to develop alternative uses of the wells.

Planning permission to restore the site and abandon the wells expires in April 2023.

Earlier this month, the company said it intended to seek another two years at Preston New Road. A planning application for the extension has not yet been submitted to Lancashire County Council.

This week, the local MP, Mark Menzies, told the Blackpool Gazette “it is time for Cuadrilla to pack up and go”. He said:

“What I want now is for that site to be cleared, for the wells to be capped and for it to be returned to countryside. That needs to happen as soon as possible.

“Cuadrilla’s time is up, that is the message I am sending and one which Lancashire County Council needs to send too.”

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