Cuadrilla Welcomes UK Shale Ruling
UK shale gas explorer Cuadrilla Resources said April 12 it welcomed the High Court verdict that day dismissing two claims made against the decision by Secretary of State for Communities, Sajid Javid, to grant planning consent for its shale drilling site at Preston New Road, near Blackpool, Lancashire.
Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan said: “We are very pleased that the Planning Inspector’s recommendation and the Secretary of State's decision to grant planning consent has been upheld by the High Court.”
“Work continues on the construction of the exploration site and we look forwards to progressing to the drilling stage of our operations within the next couple of months,” Egan added. The company's application includes hydraulically fracturing (fracking) at the site in northwest England.
The company was drilling for shale gas nearby in 2011 until minor quakes prompted the government to introduce a UK moratorium in shale gas drilling.
The Preston New Road site (Photo credit: Cuadrilla)
The verdict followed a hearing in Manchester in mid-March; it followed a legal challenge brought by local residents group, Preston New Road Action Group (PNRAG), represented by law firm Leigh Day.
Lancashire County Council rejected Cuadrilla’s original application in 2015. But the UK government exercised its powers to overturn that decision, now unsuccessfully challenged by PNRAG, whose spokesperson Patricia Davies expressed sadness at this ruling: “We take on board the findings of Mr Justice Dove but need time to dissect the full judgment before determining our next move.”
“Despite the Judge’s conclusions, we remain concerned that, in making his decision, the Secretary of State made several fundamental legal errors,” said Leigh Day solicitor Rowan Smith: “Our client is considering options for an appeal.”
In December 2016, another UK shale gas explorer Third Energy, owned by Barclays Bank, expressed relief that a judicial review regarding its application for test fracks at its existing well at Kirby Misperton, which was given planning consent by the local North Yorkshire County Council.
Another explorer IGas has consent to drill for shale gas at two sites in north Nottinghamshire, but has not applied to frack at either, while Ineos has multiple UK shale gas blocks but -- as an operator -- has not yet applied to drill or frack such wells.