Spotlight on gas concern

Coun Kiran Mulholland - please use this photo

Coun Kiran Mulholland - please use this photo

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DETAILS of an in depth review on shale gas were under the scrutiny spotlight when Fylde councillors met last night.

A thorough investigation into controversial process has been ordered by the town hall after councillors voted to build up their knowledge of the operation.

Cuadrilla’s sites at Preese Hall, in Weeton, and Grange Road, Singleton, are the first in the UK to drill for shale gas.

But concerns have been raised over the safety of the operations this year after possible links to recent earthquakes.

Councillors met with bosses from energy firm Cuadrilla who presented to the Community Focus Scrutiny Committee on June 23. But following the meeting, councillors said they wanted a fuller report to examine the “social, economic and environmental impact of shale gas drilling in the borough.”

The Community Focus Scrutiny met at the Town Hall last night to agree the full terms of the review.

A report, prepared by scrutiny officers has suggested evidence is drawn from a number of high profile sources including the Environment Agency, the Health And Safety Executive and Environmental Health.

Forming a task group to perform site visits and review issues like planning permission has also been proposed as has requesting a full geographical survey.

Coun Kiran Mulholland, will lead the investigation.

Council officer Lyndsey Lacey said the probe had been instigated by councillors after the recent earthquakes nearby.

She added: “Following concerns raised by elected members, the issue of on-shore shale gas drilling within the borough has been identified by the committee as a subject for in-depth scrutiny.

“In view of that, it is suggested the review examines the social, economic and environmental impacts of shale gas drilling.”

Exploratory work is continuing at the Singleton site, but fracking was suspended at the firm’s Preese Hall site.

The British Geological Society and Department of Energy and Climate Change are still in the process of investigating any links to earthquake earlier this year.

And caution about the new process has not just come from the UK. America and France have put a moratorium on shale gas drilling to ensure there are no potentially harmful effects to the environment or health.

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said the company welcomed ongoing communication with the council and believed it was “important” to engage with the community.