Frack­ing firm given right to re­sume drilling by High Court

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Jil­lian Am­brose

SHALE gas frack­ing will go ahead in Bri­tain for the first time since 2011 af­ter a judge dis­missed safety con­cerns.

Cuadrilla, the frack­ing firm, de­feated ac­tivists in the High Court yes­ter­day and said it may be­gin frack­ing at its Lan­cashire site as soon as to­day af­ter clear­ing the fi­nal hur­dle since earth­quake fears brought the bur­geon­ing in­dus­try to a halt seven years ago.

The tem­po­rary in­junc­tion against Cuadrilla’s frack­ing plans will fall away af­ter the High Court re­jected a bid by an anti-frack­ing cam­paigner to block the work, say­ing there is “no ev­i­dence” that the frack­ing poses more than a “medium risk”.

Within hours of the verdict, an­tifrack­ing groups took to so­cial me­dia to call for shale op­po­nents to gather at Cuadrilla’s Pre­ston New Road site. Frack Free Lan­cashire warned its mem­bers to ar­rive at the site as soon as yes­ter­day even­ing or early this morn­ing to “show them why we are op­posed to this here or any­where”.

The UK is thought to hold un­tapped re­serves of shale gas within lay­ers of un­der­ground rock for­ma­tions. How­ever, po­lit­i­cal sup­port for the con­tentious plans to ex­ploit the re­source has ebbed and flowed with suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments. Crit­ics of frack­ing fear that on­shore oil and gas ex­trac­tion could trig­ger earth­quakes, or con­tam­i­nate drink­ing wa­ter. Oth­ers ob­ject to de­vel­op­ing fresh sources of gas as the UK shifts to­wards low-car­bon en­ergy.

Francis Egan, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Cuadrilla, said that if the frack­ing cam­paign un­locks com­mer­cially re­cov­er­able gas re­serves, these will be able to “dis­place costly im­ported gas with lower emis­sions, sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic ben­e­fit and bet­ter se­cu­rity of en­ergy sup­ply for the UK”.

The hy­draulic frac­tur­ing process in­volves blast­ing huge vol­umes of wa­ter and sand into lay­ers of shale be­neath the earth’s sur­face. Mr Egan said the process is ex­pected to take around three months to com­plete be­fore it can test the flow of nat­u­ral gas from wells.

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