The Environment Agency has granted the UK shale-explorer Cuadrilla Resources all of the environmental permits required to carry out operations at its proposed shale gas exploration site at Roseacre Wood, near Elswick in Lancashire. Earlier in January, The Environment Agency gave Cuadrilla the environmental permits to commence operations at their other proposed site in Lancashire, at Preston New Road.
The permits require Cuadrilla to protect groundwater, surface water and air quality, as well as safely store, manage and dispose of any waster generated by the exploration activities.
Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, responding to today’s announcement, said: “We are pleased that the Environment Agency has granted our permits for our proposed exploration site at Roseacre Wood which follows the approval for permits at our other proposed site at Preston New Road.
“Following such a rigorous review and public consultation of all of our permit applications by the regulator, this unequivocally demonstrates that, as we have committed, our proposed exploratory operations will be carried out responsibly ensuring the local environment is protected.”
Lancashire environment manager Steve Molyneux said: “Over the past six months we have rigorously assessed Cuadrilla’s applications and carefully considered all of the public comments received.”
“I am confident that the strict controls set out in the permits to manage waste, safe flaring of gas and conditions to safeguard local water resources will ensure that people and the environment remain protected.”
However, this is not the end of the road for Cuadrilla when it comes to the regulatory process. The company still needs to secure planning permission to develop the site and this has so far proved problematic. On the 22nd January, the Lancashire County Council’s planning officer recommended that the permission for fracking on both sites be refused on the grounds of noise pollution and increased traffic. In response the company requested a deferral to allow time for another consultation to take place.
In total, Cuadrilla owns licences for ten sites in the UK, at least one of which will be excluded from fracking operations under the newly-introduced environmental protections. Cuadrilla’s Balcombe site is within an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), which under proposals put forward by Labour and accepted by the Government early this month are exempt from any exploration activities.
If the company is successful in receiving the planning permissions on its two Lancashire sites, Cuadrilla will become the first company to re-commence shale exploration work in the UK, since the country imposed a moratorium on fracking in 2012 after a series of earth tremors near a Cuadrilla shale gas site near Blackpool.
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