Fracking inquiry: what you need to know

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With a fracking inquiry set to start on Tuesday, we look back at the story of shale gas so far.

The Evening Post had carried stories about the possibility of using natural gas trapped in shale rock formations thousands of feet below ground prior to this.

Some people thought Lancashire could become the new Texas, with shale gas powering not only homes and industry but also the local economy, as it had across the USA.

Environmentalists had voiced concern that it could be a polluting process and then in April the following year, the gas revolution came to a shuddering halt.

Fracking was blamed for two earth tremors felt across the Fylde and Blackpool.

One tremor of magnitude 2.3 hit on April 1, followed by a second of magnitude 1.4 on May 27.

As a result, a moratorium was placed on fracking which was not lifted until December 2012, when the Government decided that it could go ahead with strict controls and monitoring.

Although several exploratory wells had been drilled by Cuadrilla, only Preese Hall had actually been fracked.

In February 2014 the firm lodged two applications for planning permission to drill and test frack at a site near Little Plumpton, off Preston New Road, and at Roseacre.

In June 2015 after a series of delays brought about by both Cuadrilla and opponents, Lancashire County Council finally ruled on the two planning applications and the associated applications for extensive monitoring at the sites.

The monitoring at Roseacre was approved first and then the fracking bid after much deliberation was rejected at that site along with both the monitoring and fracking bids at Preston New Road.

They were refused on grounds of noise and visual impact at Preston new Road and on traffic impact grounds at Roseacre.

In September 2015, Cuadrilla lodged four appeals to the Secretary of State against the decisions to refuse planning permission for both exploration sites, the monitoring site at Preston New Road and against one of the conditions imposed on the planning permission for the monitoring array at Roseacre Wood.

Tomorrow, the hearings begin at Blackpool Football Club’s Bloomfield Road ground.

Anti-fracking protesters are set to hold a demonstration outside the stadium, as are groups which are backing fracking as a way of providing jobs and tax revenue for the area.

Lancashire Police have said they will have a presence at the ground but were hoping the hearings would pass off peacefully, as they did at County Hall, Preston, last June.

At 10am the inquiry will be opened by government planning inspector Wendy Kay, who will compile a report on the isse which will be passed on to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, who will decide on the applications.

On day one opening statements will be made by Cuadrilla, Lancashire County Council, Friends of the Earth, the Roseacre Awareness Group and the Preston New Road Action Group.

Over the next five days, evidence from all interested parties will be presented.

On Wednesday, February 17, the first of two evening sessions will be held to allow people who work during the day to give evidence.

The second will be on Thursday, February 25. Both will start at 6.30pm.

Visits to the sites in question will take place on February 24.

It is expected that the hearings will be wrapped up on Friday, March 11.