Shadow minister calls for halt to shale gas drilling

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THE shadow energy minister has called for a halt on controversial drilling across the Fylde Coast.

MP Huw Irranca-Davies is the Labour representative of the Department for Energy and Climate Change – the committee which is leading an inquiry into gas company Cuadrilla and their bid to drill on the Fylde.

He has written to Energy Minister Charles Hendry and Secretary of State Chris Huhne asking for a freeze on fracking – the technique which involves pumping a clay and chemical mixture into the ground, to cause cracks in underground rocks to release shale gas.

The process has been linked to environmental concerns in the United States, including alleged chemical pollution of water and environmental damage.

Mr Irranca-Davies said: “The Government must assure itself and the wider public fracking and the associated processes used for extraction of gas from shale are safe for use in the UK.

“This form of energy production is new to the UK, and may well have potential for our future energy security.

“But Ministers cannot turn a blind eye and sacrifice our natural environment, or compromise on climate change targets.

“I urge the Government to call a temporary halt to applications, and properly explore the full implications for the UK.”

Cuadrilla Resources have secured three sites in the Fylde – off Grange Road, near Singleton, Preese Hall, Weeton, and Anna’s Road, Westby. Mr Irranca-Davies added: “Ministers are in danger of being caught napping by a surge of applications by companies eager to exploit this potential energy source.

“If we are to avoid environmental problems caused by some operators in other countries, the Government must assure itself, the public, and industry that the right regulatory framework and environmental safeguards are in place.”

Cuadrilla Resources have contacted Mr Irranc-Davies to arrange a meeting.

Bosses claim there are no grounds to call a moratorium.

Mark Miller, chief executive of Cuadrilla Resources, said: “Cuadrilla welcome Mr Irranca-Davies’ view shale gas has potential for future energy security.

“We have asked for a meeting so we can allay his concerns about shale gas.

“We would be delighted to show Mr Irranca-Davies around our sites so he can witness at first hand best practice procedures we have in place.”

The company said the only chemicals it uses are a friction reducing compound commonly found in contact lenses, weak chlorine, and possibly weak biocide.