The challenge to the contentious decision made by the Secretary of State for Local Authorities and Government to grant Cuadrilla’s appeal against Lancashire County Council to drill and frack eight wells over two sites in Lancaster has been refused. The decision was challenged by Preston New Road Action Group, a local anti-fracking group, and campaigner Gayzer Frackman. They argued that the decision was flawed as it had not appropriately considered the climate change risks associated with the development however their request for judicial review was dismissed. The path is now clear for Cuadrilla to complete the works on what will be the UK’s first horizontal fracking project.
In Scotland however the moratorium on fracking remains in place. On 31st January 2017 the Scottish Government launched a consultation to gauge views on a potential end to the current moratorium on the harvesting of on-shore unconventional oil and gas (UOG) in Scotland. The consultation results are currently being examined.
Since 2013 the Scottish Government has commissioned a number of reports which investigate the economic, environmental and community impacts in Scotland, where the resources are concentrated in the Central Belt where former coal fields once were. It is thought that Scotland has significant amounts of shale gas (49.4 trillion cubic feet) and while the Scottish Government research shows that only around 2% of these resources would be commercially suitable for production before 2062 which still equates to five and a half years of gas consumption in Scotland at current levels. By comparison Lancashire has an estimated 822 trillion cubic feet of shale gas available. As production in Scotland would be relatively low it would not have any notable effect on the global market.
Commencement of work in Lancashire is however being met with protests from local councillors and residents. Three councillors and an ex-civil servant have locked themselves together near a Lancashire fracking site, Preston New Road, where a drill is expected to arrive. The protest is part of “rolling resistance” month of action by campaign group Reclaim the Power however Cuadrilla has confirmed that this has not affected any of the work at the site.
Having exhausted all other legitimate means of resistance, the protester claim that an industry that, backed by a distant central government, is seeking to turn Fylde and Lancashire into the largest gas field in Europe. It seems that, despite government backing, support for fracking for shale gas is not going to happen any time soon.