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    Cuadrilla Says UK Fracking Starts Oct.13


A judge dismissed a last-minute appeal by opponents of fracking.

by: Mark Smedley

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Cuadrilla Says UK Fracking Starts Oct.13

UK shale explorer Cuadrilla has confirmed that it plans to go ahead October 13 with the start of hydraulic fracturing operations (fracking) at its Preston New Road shale gas exploration site in northwest England (see banner photo, courtesy of the company).

It said that at the High Court in London, October 12, Mr Justice Supperstone dismissed a last minute request for an interim injunction to prevent this from happening, and also dismissed a Judicial Review case against Lancashire County Council’s (LCC) emergency response planning and procedures for the Preston New Road site. The request for the injunction was lodged October 5.

If fracking does start this weekend, it will be the first such operation in the UK since 2011 when previous fracking by Cuadrilla caused minor earth tremorsprompting a moratorium and regulatory review. 

Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan said: “We are delighted to be starting our hydraulic fracturing operations as planned. We are now commencing the final operational phase to evaluate the commercial potential for a new source of indigenous natural gas in Lancashire. If commercially recoverable this will displace costly imported gas, with lower emissions, significant economic benefit and better security of energy supply.”

The company said its fracking will last about three months in respect of both horizontal exploration wells. Cuadrilla will then test the gas flows from both wells; initial results expected in early 2019. It secured final governmental consents last month to frack both wells. Its planning consent permits fracking Mondays to Fridays 8am to 6pm, Saturdays 9am to 1pm, with none on Sundays and public holidays. 

Former Green Party leader Caroline Lucas tweeted that it was "beyond belief fracking getting go ahead - especially just days after UN so powerfully reminded us of urgency of tackling climate chaos." There has been criticism too of the imprisonment of three fracking protesters by a judge who reportedly has family connections to a supplier of Centrica, a 25% partner of Cuadrilla in its Lancashire licences. The Times newspaper reported October 12 that the sentences may be overturned.

A traffic light system means that fracking must be temporarily suspended, if more than a 0.5 magnitude tremor occurs. However the Guardian newspaper reported this week that such rules, introduced 2014, may be relaxed, citing correspondence between junior energy minister Claire Perry and a pro-fracking parliamentarian Kevin Hollinrake who nonetheless wants existing regulations maintained.