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 david.simister@champnews.com
Monday, 03 December 2012 (3033189)
Day of reckoning for Cuadrilla UK operations
by David Simister


WEST Lancashire residents are among those who took part in demonstrations calling for an end to fracking yesterday despite Cuadrilla reiterating its committment to shale gas drilling.

Opponents of Cuadrilla's shale gas operations in Banks were among those who backed demonstrations in London and Lytham yesterday calling for an end to the controversial gas extraction technique, which has been linked to tremor activity and pollution.

It follows comments made by Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan, who said last weekend that despite a current moratorium on the process it was keen to get activity at its sites back on track as soon as possible.

He told national media: “We are starting a whole new onshore gas industry. In our licence alone we can supply a quarter of the UK's gas demand.

”Britain is spending tens of billions of pounds importing gas. If we are able to develop gas resources here . . . it could make a major difference for the country in terms of tax revenues, balance of payments and at a time when the economy is the pits.“

He also hinted that if a decision on the current moratorium - expected in today's Autumn Statment by Chancellor George Osborne - that the company could ”walk away“, with investors not having indefinite patience. The current moratorium was imposed last year, after tremor activity near Blackpool was confirmed as being linked to Cuadrillas' drilling activities.

Anti-fracking protestors, meanwhile, have handed a letter to the Prime Minister calling for an end to shale gas drilling in the UK, and held a day of protests yesterday, backed by Lancashire group Ribble Estuary Against Fracking.

In the letter, the protestors wrote: ”Fracking for shale gas and coal bed methane is not an intelligent response to Britain's energy needs.

“It would provide gas and ‘keep the lights on' in the next fifteen to twenty years, after which Britain would be in exactly the same energy predicament it is in now, except that our landscape would be spoiled, water courses irreparably contaminated and we would have poured countless tons of methane and CO2 into the atmosphere.”

Cuadrilla's shale gas operations involve drilling beneath the ground and pumping thousands of gallons of water and chemicals beneath the surface to fracture a layer of shale, in a bid to release gas trapped beneath. The company has previously said there could be as much as 200 trillion cubic feet of gas trapped beneath Lancashire, which it says would create thousands of jobs.






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