Fracking firm given right to resume drilling by High Court
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.