Green Party campaigners at forefront of anti-fracking fight welcome Preston New Road shut-down

Green Party councillors who have been at the forefront of the campaign against fracking in Lancashire are celebrating the 'final nail in the coffin' for the controversial drilling process.

By Wes Holmes
Friday, 11th February 2022, 12:30 pm

Two shale gas wells on Preston New Road, near Blackpool, will be filled in and and abandoned soon following orders from the Oil and Gas Authority.

The site, run by energy company Cuadrilla, has not operated since November 2019, when a nationwide fracking ban was announced by the Government following a series of earth tremors.

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Fracking equipment on Preston New Road

The leader of Lancaster City Council, Green councillor Caroline Jackson, said: “After a long and hard campaign, it is brilliant news that the final nail in the coffin for fracking in Britain has been hammered home today.

“Decades of investing in ever-more extreme ways of accessing fossil fuels has left us with a climate emergency and rocketing energy prices. Allowing fracking to go ahead would have been totally unacceptable. There was never any way that fracking in Lancashire could have gone ahead without serious damage to the environment and it is an enormous relief and a credit to all those who campaigned against it to see the plans finally blocked.”

Fellow councillor and former MEP for the North-West Gina Dowding said: “Though this news is cause for celebration, this is not the end of the road. Millions of people are struggling with fuel poverty and rocketing energy bills right now because of the Government’s refusal to invest in cheap, clean, renewable energy instead of oil and gas.

“Yet just this week the Chancellor has backed plans for expanding the UK’s fossil fuel industry, which clearly has no viable future. We urgently need a plan to wind down the rest of the UK’s oil and gas exploration as well as existing fossil fuel infrastructure, and to replace it with renewable energy.”

Cuadrilla's chief executive officer Francis Egan, however, branded the decision 'ridiculous'. He said: “Cuadrilla has spent hundreds of millions of pounds establishing the viability of the Bowland Shale as a high-quality gas deposit. Shale gas from the North of England has the potential to meet the UK’s energy needs for decades to come, yet ministers have chosen now, at the height of an energy crisis, to take us to this point. Once these wells are filled with cement and abandoned it will be incredibly costly and difficult to rectify."

Friends of the Earth campaigner, Tony Bosworth, said: “It’s great news that the UK’s most notorious would-be frackers are plugging and abandoning these wells, and a clear sign that fracking is dead.

“Above all, it’s a tribute to the work and resilience of the local communities in Lancashire.

“It is clearer than ever that the UK must get off expensive and polluting gas once and for all with a massive programme of renewable energy and insulation.”

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