The impact of Fracking on local residents in Blackpool and the Fylde Coast
PUBLISHED: 11:32 17 April 2012 | UPDATED: 19:21 07 September 2017
Campaigners are fighting proposals to resume fracking on the Fylde Coast, as Paul Mackenzie reports
It is generally agreed that something needs to be done if we are to meet the rising demand for energy in the future. Stocks of fossil fuels are diminishing and the debate rages on about the efficiency of renewable sources, but the answer could lie deep beneath the Lancashire countryside.
Explorations are underway to discover how much gas is trapped within the shale rock under the Fylde coast. Three sites have been selected and drilling is already underway at Weeton and Singleton, with work expected to begin at Anna’s Road near Lytham early in the summer.
But concerned residents are upset at the work which, they say, could pose risks to the environment, roads and the health of people who live nearby.
Previous work to extract shale gas on the Fylde was halted when the drilling caused a series of earth tremors and Cuadrilla, the company with the license to carry out explorations in the area, are now waiting for the green light from government before the work can resume.
The extraction process uses a high pressure mix of water, chemicals and sand which fractures the rock – a process known as fracking – and allows the gas to escape while the sand fills the cracks in the rock.
But Ian Roberts, the chairman of RAFF – Residents Action of Fylde Fracking – said: ‘People have real concerns about this and we want those concerns answered before things go any further. I don’t think Cuadrilla are setting out to do a dangerous job but it is clear that they don’t have all the answers, otherwise the earthquakes in Blackpool would not have happened. We all know alternative energy sources need to be found, but I believe that renewable energy is the fuel of the future.’
Ian, a former HR manager in the civil service at Preston who hit the headlines earlier this year when he found a £21,000 in a carrier bag on his doorstep and donated it to the revamp of his local park in St Annes, added: ‘We are not going to chain ourselves to railings or climb the rigging and demand they go away.
‘We are going to be sensible and grown-up about our protest, but that doesn’t mean we are any less steely or that we will be a push-over.’
A spokesman for Cuadrilla, who also operate a drilling site at Banks, said: ‘We accept that there are risks associated with the fracking process but we do all we can to mitigate against accidents and to ensure that the work is carried out safely, reliably and efficiently.’
The company has a licence to drill up to 800 holes in total across Lancashire, although the spokesman insisted the actual number would be nearer 400. ‘People are concerned and we understand that, that’s why we have held open days where members of the public can talk to staff.
‘We find that the more we talk to people, the more content they are with the idea.
‘There’s no point us pretending there won’t be an impact, there will. There will be more traffic on the roads and it can take between 30 and 50 years for each well to be exhausted but we will try where possible to keep the impact to a minimum.’
On 17th April a government-appointed panel of experts gave the go-ahead for fracking to continue. The panel believes there will probably be more quakes but that they will be too small to do structural damage above ground and recommends more monitoring of the situation
The print version of this article appeared in the May 2012 issue of Lancashire Life
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