Minister’s backing for gas drill scheme

Tests are being carried out in Fylde by a firm exploring a new way of extracting natural gas from underground rocks.'A well is being drilled on land near Kirkham to determine the scale of shale gas reserves there.'The drill at Preese Hall Farm, Weeton
Tests are being carried out in Fylde by a firm exploring a new way of extracting natural gas from underground rocks.'A well is being drilled on land near Kirkham to determine the scale of shale gas reserves there.'The drill at Preese Hall Farm, Weeton
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ENERGY minister Charles Hendry has given his backing to controversial shale gas production on the Fylde coast.

The MP visited one of Cuadrilla Resources’ gas drilling sites in South Fylde yesterday before meeting with energy firm bosses.

The process involves fracturing rock – or fracking – to release shale gas using around 1,200 cubic metres of highly pressurised water mixed with chemicals.

Opposition groups to the gas fracking have already formed and the process has been slammed by the Green Party.

However, Mr Hendry said: “People think this is new technology but it is not – it actually dates back to the 1940s.

“What is new is the application of getting the gas out from 10,000ft below ground level.”

Cuadrilla has drilled extensively at Preese Hall in Weeton, and another site in Westby has yet to be drilled.

Four further sites, including land off Kirkham bypass, and Singleton, have also been identified as shale rock areas and will be looked at in the near future.

Mr Hendry added: “It is a very well-established process used around the world.

“If anyone has concerns about the practice they can be reassured it is safe.”

Cuadrilla’s attempts at drilling are the first of their kind in the UK and the company has pledged to be completely transparent with residents near its sites.

It has already given tours to residents from Little Eccleston, Fylde MP Mark Menzies, and local parish councillors.

Mr Hendry said the sites could be vital in Fylde ’s long-term economic wellbeing.

He added: “There is incredible potential for jobs in the energy sector here. It’s a big growth area. We need to develop as many of our own resources as we can.”