Crowds flock to learn about gas

Crowds at the Cuadrilla information day at Church Road Methodist church hall, in St Annes.
Crowds at the Cuadrilla information day at Church Road Methodist church hall, in St Annes.

CAMPAIGNERS made sure their voices were heard as a shale gas drilling company held its first public information event.

Hundreds of people packed into the Church Road Centre in St Annes on Saturday for a chance to question experts at Cuadrilla Resources’ over the controversial gas drilling process.

The company has sites in Singleton, Weeton and Westby and has recently unveiled plans to carry out a massive land survey as it bids to find out the scale of riches below ground.

Space was scarce around information stands about the environmental impact of fracking – pumping water under-ground at high speed to fracture the rock and release gas – and how it works.

But outside, members of Residents Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF) handed out leaflets and asked people to sign a petition against further sites.

Ian Roberts, from the group, said: “Our fear is there is no over arching scrutiny of this process, we want more expert input before anything is allowed to proceed which could damage our local environment. People are worried about pollution and tremors, and none of the people we’ve spoken to seem to have left this information day feeling reassured.”

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Fracking at the sites is currently suspended while an investigation into local earth tremors is conducted by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Cuadrilla has promised to bring millions of pounds and hundreds of jobs to the local economy if the company presses ahead with plans to drill commercially on the Fylde.

They say the land survey is key to helping them make that decision.

A Cuadrilla spokesman said: “We are very pleased so many people turned out to speak to our experts.

“We are hopeful we have been able to answer a lot of concerns people have about the environmental impact of our processes.

There is great potential for jobs and cash for local councils as well as wider economic growth.”

But residents still had doubts. Dr David Roberts. from St Annes. said: “The whole process makes me feel very nervous. I’ve read about the potential impact on water supplies, including one suggestion water can ignite from taps.

“Tremors are also very worrying and the millions being offered seem to amount to a pittance when you think of the sums of profits they will make.”

Pat Mobley, from Trent Street, Lytham, said: “This seems like little more than a PR stunt and I’m not convinced at all. Residents in Lytham were not even notified of these meetings, I’m particularly concerned about the environmental problems it may bring.”

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