The Fylde coast will remain the focus of fracking development in the UK, despite a whole new raft of licences being released by the Government, a gas exploration company said.
Cuadrilla Resources, which is aiming to drill exploration wells at Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road on the Fylde, said it welcomed the new licences but said its Lancashire business was where the important developments were taking place.
Bidding for the newest licences to extract shale gas by fracking is beginning with about half the UK open to exploration – but national parks would have some protection.
Launching the new on-shore licences, business and energy minister Matthew Hancock said: “Unlocking shale gas in Britain has the potential to provide us with greater energy security, jobs and growth. We must act carefully, minimising risks, to explore how much of our large resource can be recovered to give the UK a new home-grown source of energy.”
A Cuadrilla spokesperson said: “We are pleased with the announcement and will be carefully assessing the exploration acreage included in the 14th round, while maintaining our immediate focus on securing planning consents for our proposed shale gas exploration sites in Lancashire.”
Rob Green, head of enterprise and investment for the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Economic Development Company, and a North West Energy Task Force panellist, said:“We are delighted to see the Government pressing ahead with further exploration licences.
“The safe and responsible extraction of natural gas from shale has the potential to generate economic growth, boost local revenues and create thousands of jobs in the energy sector and supply chain.
“Our region has a proud history of manufacturing, and shale gas extraction in the North West offers us the opportunity to build a new industry in the North West, and lead the way in Europe.”
However, the news was greeted with disapproval by anti-fracking groups, who are worried about the industry’s effects on the environment and local communities.
Patricia Davies, of The Preston New Road Action Group, said; “The new round of shale licences opening up today is another indication of the Government’s intention to drive this policy through at any cost, at great speed, and without public consent .
“There is widespread opposition to this industry right across the country. It risks damaging our health, our communities, our air and our land.
“The health evidence, particularly from the USA and Canada, is damning.”