MP demands assurances from fracking companies

Fylde MP Mark Menzies
Fylde MP Mark Menzies
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Fylde MP Mark Menzies has called on fracking companies to offer reassurances to communities affected by shale gas drilling if permission is granted by the Government in the next few weeks.

He was speaking at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on shale gas regulation and planning at Westminster.

He along with fellow Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake pressed fracking companies to estimate how many sites they would need in a 10km square.

Cuadrilla is awaiting a ruling on whether it can test frack for gas at sites off Preston New Road and Roseacre on the Fylde following a six week planning appeal after permission was refused by Lancashire County Council.

One of the witnesses speaking in Westminster was operation director for INEOS Tom Pickering who suggested that his company was looking at eight to 10 sites in a 10km block.

Mr Menzies asked him: “If you are confident that in a 10 by 10km square it could be done with eight to ten pads what conversations have you had with Government with regards to enshrining this in legislation?”

Mr Pickering said none had taken place and the number of wells per area was a matter for local authorities.

But Mr Menzies said reassurances such as this would be vital as communities were wary of shale gas drilling: “You need to have conversations with government.

“If you are confident that with new technology you can extract enough gas without going all over the place. This is about reassuring people.”

MP for Thirsk and Malton Kevin Hollinrake urged the industry to say how many sites would be needed. He said: “You are saying not zero but not thousands. Unless you are able to give people the reassurance at this time you will face massive local concerns.”

Fylde anti-fracking campaigners have criticised the All Party Parliamentary Group on shale for not inviting them.

Barbara Richardson, from the Roseacre Awareness Group, said: “It is absolutely vital that members of the APPG, who seem to assume this damaging industry will go ahead despite huge public opposition, listen to what affected communities have to say.

“On Monday we suddenly, and rather belatedly, got a phone call from the APPG office in Westminster to ask if we would speak at a future meeting on November 8.

“We will most definitively be attending and will ensure the views of our communities are heard loud and clear. By this time we will of course have had a decision by the Secretary of State about LCC’s decision to reject Cuadrilla plans and their subsequent appeal.

“This week’s meeting clearly shows the committee are all too willing to listen to industry representatives who are not prepared to commit themselves to any limits on well density.

“It is clear to us that a minimum of eight to 10 pads, hundreds of wells potentially, would be required in a square 10km. It could be many more if no restrictions are put in place as the industry is advocating.”

Matt Lambert, Director of Cuadrilla, today said: “The main purpose of our proposed temporary shale gas exploration operations is so that we can then analyse data from those works in order to determine exactly where and how many sites may be required.

“Once we understand that we would of course communicate and consult with the local community. One of the benefits of horizontal drilling which we are hoping to undertake is that it minimises impact at surface level and lowers the numbers of well pads needed. ”