OFFICIALS at Lancashire County Council have moved to allay fears that permission for exploratory drilling in Skelmersdale is about to be sought ahead of possible fracking activity in the town.
A group of concerned residents have organised a meeting tonight (Wednesday, May 17) at Up Holland Labour Club to discuss the matter. However, a spokesman for the county council said that the authority had not received any new applications for drilling or fracking.
Susan Winter, from Esbrook, told the Champion: “There has been talk that there might be exploratory drilling in Tanhouse, East Pimbo and Crawford. Tanhouse is a built-up area and residents are really concerned. We have contacted the MP and councillors but have had nothing back from them to date.
“Many people are worried about this as there are health implications with fracking. It can make homes unstable and disturb foundations – there have been ‘mini earthquakes’ in some areas near to where there has been exploratory drilling.
“Also, companies will not insure your home if you have fracking in the area - all the stuff you hear about fracking seems to be negative.”
Nicola Escott from Skelmersdale campaign group Arrow (Action to Reduce and Recycle Our Waste) commented: “Energy conservation is top priority if we are to avoid fracking. This is an area that urgently needs attention. It is a subject that is not receiving attention from the government or councils.”
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said that although Cuadrilla had drilled a well in the past at Becconsall, there were no new applications for drilling in West Lancashire. He believed that concerns might have been raised about the prospect of future drilling when the Oil and Gas Authority issued a new round of licences.
He commented: “Licences offered by the Oil and Gas Authority give operators exclusive rights to explore for oil and gas reserves in a particular area, usually over a period of five years. However, operators need to secure planning permission, an Environment Agency permit, approval from the Health and Safety Executive, and agreement from the Department of Energy and Climate Change before any drilling and hydraulic fracturing can start.
“Operators are able to carry out some limited activities, such as geological surveys and water monitoring, under permitted development rights, which means planning permission would not normally be needed. However, activities such as drilling and fracturing to explore for oil and gas need specific planning permission from the county council. The county council would assess and hold public consultation on any applications that come in as required.”
Last year Aurora Energy carried out seismic surveys in other parts of the borough to find out more about the geology of the area. This is one of the activities that can be carried out under 'permitted development rights' which means they don't have to apply for planning permission.
Following the testing concerns were raised by residents of Halsall and Haskayne that their walls had shaken.