Fracking protection calls

The drilling rig in Singleton and (below) consultant engineer Mike Hill.
The drilling rig in Singleton and (below) consultant engineer Mike Hill.
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A SHALE gas expert claims not enough will be done to regulate controversial fracking on the Fylde.

Mike Hill, technical advisor to Fylde Council, has held numerous meetings with government bodies and said he is “disappointed” by their plans to keep monitor shale gas drilling.

Consultant engineer Mike Hill

Consultant engineer Mike Hill

He wants one regulatory body to take charge of keeping the Fylde safe, if Cuadrilla Resources is given the go-ahead to resume shale gas drilling.

Mr Hill says he is worried by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) plans to split the duty.

Mr Hill said: “I expect the Government and the regulators to protect us.

“The people I am talking to in London are very well paid by us to protect us, I expect them to do that and they are not. What is missing in the UK is monitoring and that has to be in place.”

DECC is the government body with overall responsibility for fracking, and is deciding whether to give Cuadrilla Resources the go-ahead to resume drilling after a series of earthquakes last year.

The HSE takes charge of workers’ safety, but Mr Hill claims neither body is carrying out sufficient on-site monitoring and now wants to set up his own regulatory body, which would be funded by the shale gas drilling industry and answer to DECC.

He has also made safety recommendations to DECC – including methane monitoring before and after drilling – which the department has agreed to take on board,

But Mr Hill said DECC is “reluctant” to accept a new body.

Cuadrilla – which confirmed it is still awaiting a date from DECC to resume fracking – also has sites in Singleton and Weeton, but could eventually expand into commercial drilling with hundreds of well pads.

An HSE spokesman said: “We are working closely with the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Environment Agency to ensure safety of gas drilling sites. Companies are legally required to seek approval for every well they drill and HSE scrutinises the well design for safety.

“HSE then monitors progress on the well to determine if the operator is conducting operations as planned during the design, construction, and production phases.

“Gas drilling companies must also provide a weekly report to HSE for inspection on their drilling operations, and we carry out on-site inspections as and when they are deemed necessary.

“Fracking operations for shale gas at Preese Hall are currently suspended. If the Government decides fracking can resume at the well, HSE will conduct a joint inspection of the site with the Environment Agency and ensure the appropriate safety and process arrangements are in place before operations can resume.”

DECC said it would shortly publish clear guidance on fracking, and regulators were already working together “closely and effectively”.

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