The countryside will become an industrial zone in many places if fracking is to replace gas imports, environment campaigners have warned.
Friends of the Earth said one well would have to be drilled and fracked every day for 15 years to produce enough gas to replace just half of future UK gas imports.
Analysis, carried out by Professor Calvin Jones of Cardiff Business School, said it would require 6,100 wells and if gas produced per well was at the lower end of possibilities, that could rise to 16,500 wells.
Friends of the Earth campaigner, Rose Dickinson, said: “This would mean an industrialisation of our countryside at a rate that nobody has yet fully appreciated and would put many more communities in the firing line of this dirty and unwanted industry.
“Cuadrilla’s current plans for Lancashire are the thin edge of the wedge.”
Daniel Carey-Dawes, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “The fracking industry has always been clear that fracked gas would replace what’s currently imported, but what wasn’t clear was the scale of land take that would involve. The many thousands of wells that would be needed, peppered across our precious landscapes, would cause harm to the English countryside on an industrial scale.”
But the pro-shale Lancashire for Shale group said: “This is just an attempt to bolster claims that fracking will industrialise the landscape when, in fact, there is no reason to believe it will. It’s also important to remember that once the wells have been hydraulically fractured, and gas is being fed into the grid, all the tall and visible equipment will be gone.”