Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road (PNR) site lies dormant, but the threat of Fracking in the Fylde has not gone away. The company claim to be waiting for a government change of heart towards oil & gas industry demands for a seismic shift in regulations that have effectively halted operations and that they are prepared to start fracking again at any time.
How much of this is true and how much is just bravado to keep the shareholders happy is hard to tell, however there has been a noticeable increase in social media posts that pander to the UK independence followers suggesting that the UK could do away with foreign imports of gas if only the UK government would allow fracking to go ahead. Even Natascha Engel, ex Fracking Commissioner who resigned in protest at the government stance on seismic limits, has surfaced to add her voice again in favour of fracking.
“The oil & gas industry demands a seismic shift in regulations”
The Fracking propaganda circus included a presentation to local businesspeople by Lancashire for Shale Chairman Lee Petts on how the current seismic regulations of stopping fracking if anything greater than a 0.5 tremor is recorded. He demonstrated this, to the great amusement of all attending, by dropping a melon into some water and explaining that the impact is equivalent to a 0.5 earth tremor felt at the surface. What Mr. Petts fails to understand, or chooses to leave out from his demonstration, is that it is what happens deep beneath the earth surface that matters when it comes to tremors, especially where wells are concerned. Any movement below ground can damage the well casing and allow the migration of pollutants up to the surface and into the foodchain. Of course, Mr. Petts and the oil & gas industry will say this cannot happen because of the UK’s gold standard regulations.
The reasons why Fylde residents should oppose fracking on health, environmental and economic grounds are clear, however the recent Environmental Agency’s (EA) report on Cuadrilla’s first fracking attempts back in October 2018 show that the company breached regulations and their permit three times and released between 2.7 and 6.8 tonnes of unburnt methane into the air. Aside from the obvious risks to Fylde residents’ health, this shows the desperate attempts by Cuadrilla to appease their funders by whatever means necessary, including endangering the health of their own workers and the local population. It also proves that Cuadrilla have no regard for the EA regulations and know that they get away with such breaches and receive a mild telling off.
“The company breached regulations and their permit three times”
The political landscape is considerably rocky at present with ambitious wannabe Prime Minister’s jockeying for position and desperate to make financial friends so the powerful lobbying by the oil & gas industry could pay off for them and the dormant threat at PNR could be awoken.
The Labour manifesto includes a ban on fracking in the UK and the importance of this to Fylde residents cannot be underestimated. Whatever the financial gains from fracking, the health of the people and the environment must come first, and at present, it is abundantly clear that there is no such thing as safe fracking.