UK fracking set to resume today after seven-year break

Article by Adam Duckett

FRACKING is set to restart in the UK today after a High Court judge dismissed a last-minute legal challenge to block the contentious process.

On Friday 12 October, Justice Michael Supperstone threw out a request to stop Cuadrilla fracking at its Preston New Road site after a local resident argued that the council’s emergency planning is inadequate. Justice Supperstone said there is “no evidence” to support the claim.

This has cleared the way for Cuadrilla to resume fracking for the first time in the UK since 2011 after activity at another site in Lancashire caused minor earthquakes and the government imposed a moratorium.

Cuadrilla has drilled two horizontal wells at its Preston New Road site, which earlier this year was the first project to receive permission under new government regulations to frack onshore. The company expects to begin fracking today, which involves using a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals to split rocks apart to release the gas inside. The process is expected to take approximately three months to complete for both wells. The company will then test the flow of gas with the initial results expected in early 2019.

“If commercially recoverable this will displace costly imported gas, with lower emissions, significant economic benefit and better security of energy supply for the UK,” said Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla.

Protestors have gathered at the site today to demonstrate against the fracking. There is consternation that the UK is supporting the development of fossil fuels in light of the stark warnings issued by UN climate experts last week that rapid, unprecedented changes are needed to limit climate change.

Jamie Peters, a fracking campaigner at Friends of the Earth said: “In a week in which the scale of action needed to stop climate chaos has dominated the headlines, it is simply wrong to be heralding the start of a new fossil-fuel industry.

“You can have fracking or you can deal with climate change – you can’t do both.”

Article by Adam Duckett

Editor, The Chemical Engineer

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