Anti-fracking protesters on the Fylde were dealt another blow today after a watchdog said it was set to allow the process at a second site.
The Environment Agency revealed that it is “minded to approve” energy company Cuadrilla’s bid to drill and test frack wells on land at Roseacre Wood near Elswick.
It follows an earlier announcement this month when it said it was thinking of approving a similiar bid on land at Little Plumpton.
In a statement the agency announced a second period of consultation on Cuadrilla’s applications for environmental permits for the proposed shale gas exploration site at Roseacre Wood.
It said that it had since June been carrying out a rigorous assessment of the applications and the comments made by the public during the first period of consultation, which closed in August.
The statement reads: “Based on this assessment, the Environment Agency is minded to grant Cuadrilla the environmental permits needed to carry out their operations and welcomes any new relevant information for consideration before making a final decision.”
The draft permits set out the conditions needed to protect groundwater, surface water and air quality and to ensure the safe storage, management and disposal of wastes.
If the permits are issued, Cuadrilla would have to follow these strict conditions which will ensure that operations do not cause harm to people or the environment.
The agency said it would rigorously enforce these conditions.
Steve Molyneux, EA environment manager for Lancashire, said, “Our regulatory controls for onshore oil and gas are in place to protect people and the environment. We will not permit activities that pose an unacceptable risk.
“This further stage of consultation is important, it gives the public and interested groups an opportunity to see and have their say on the draft environmental permits before we make a final decision.”
Cuadrilla chairman Francis Egan said: “We welcome the announcement by the Environment Agency that it is minded to approve our permits for our proposed exploration site at Roseacre Wood following the ‘minded to grant’ statement the Agency issued a few weeks ago for our other proposed site at Preston New Road. The decision, following a robust and rigorous review of our permit applications, demonstrates that, as we have committed, the local environment will be well protected throughout our proposed exploratory operations.”
Barbara Richardson from the Roaseacre Awareness Group said: “We are very concerned, but not surprised, by the EA’s decision that they have a ‘mind’ to grant the permits. They are under pressure from central government to streamline the ‘dash for gas’.
“We are extremely concerned that several serious issues have still not been resolved to our satisfaction. In particular we still do not know exactly how Cuadrilla plan to re-use the fracking fluids or how they will dispose of, and treat, the hazardous drilling wastes and fluids.”