Gas firm seeks site extension

Cuadrilla's development director Mark Miller at the drill rig in Hesketh Bank.

Cuadrilla's development director Mark Miller at the drill rig in Hesketh Bank.

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THE firm behind controversial gas fracking is bidding to spend more time on a piece of Lancashire farmland.

Just days after unveiling plans for horizontal drilling at its Westby site, Cuadrilla Resources has submitted an application to Lancashire County Council to extend its licence for work on the Hesketh Bank site.

Cuadrilla said the requested 36-month extension would allow it to look at the amount of gas locked in rock under the west Lancashire farmland.

In a statement the firm said: “Cuadrilla is to ask for a 36-month extension to the company to complete testing and analysis work in a gradual and responsible way, as part of its exploration programme which seeks to establish whether it is viable to recover gas trapped within shale rock deep beneath the surface.”

But the site is close to salad-growing fields, and opponents of shale gas fracking claim the firm should not win permission.

Philip Mitchell, chairman of the Blackpool and Fylde Green party, said: “This site is situated on prime agricultural and ecologically sensitive land close to residents’ homes .

“It may only be a matter of time before supermarket buyers, home buyers, and tourists are turned away from the west coast of Lancashire altogether.”

Cuadrilla cannot frack - shoot water and chemicals underground at high speed to fracture rock and release gas - any of its wells until it gets the go-ahead from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) because of earthquakes which hit the Poulton area last year.

In a letter to residents about its latest application, Mark Miller, the development director at Cuadrilla, said: “Extending the existing planning permission would not change the fact that the site will be returned to its original condition once operations are complete.”

The well at Hesketh Bank was drilled last summer and the site used for exploratory work.

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