Cuadrilla Abandons Lancashire Site
by Philip Carr-Gomm
Cuadrilla has announced that it is pulling out of its Anna’s Road site. Wintering birds are said to be the reason.
As part of its exploratory drilling phase, Cuadrilla drilled a vertical well at the Anna’s Road and in August 2012, the company announced that it was ready to drill horizontally at the site, even though horizontal drilling was not a condition of the exploratory phase planning permissions. At the end of 2012, the company announced that it had messed up the well – the concrete casing was proved to be inferior and then a piece of equipment got lodged down there, so the well was abandoned. Cuadrilla submitted a subsequent planning application to Lancashire County Council to enable it to undertake hydraulic fracturing of the gas reservoir. Further information on the botched well is available here.
The news that Cuadrilla is leaving the site because of concern for birds is in our opinion complete tosh. Cuadrilla doesn’t give a hoot (no pun intended) about birds. It certainly didn’t care about them when it breached planning conditions in Banks by operating outside the period of its planning permission. Cuadrilla, in fact, continued to drill two months beyond the agreed time limit. and by drilling in winter they failed to meet a key condition to safeguard bird life from the adjacent Ribble Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest. Not much care for wildlife there then. They did make noises about caring for the birds around the Anna’s Road site last winter by erecting hay bales round the site so that the birds wouldn’t be disturbed! You couldn’t make it up.
Cuadrilla has withdrawn because of people power. This a victory for all those who have campaigned against Anna’s Road. Located barely a mile from one of Lytham’s largest housing estates, bordering land that has been earmarked for new housing and served by small rural roads, we could never quite understand why Lancashire County Council ever gave planning permission in the first place, regardless of the environmental implications.
Cuadrilla must be fuming – millions of £s down and still nothing to show for it. The company had big plans for the Anna’s Road site – a 12 stage multi frack plus lateral section. Residents in Westby will be relieved, of course, but we have no idea if any damage has been incurred to aquifers, etc as a result of the drilling. Of course, plenty of other communities in Lancashire are still living with the threat of shale gas development in their communities, but for the moment we can enjoy a victory and revel in Cuadrilla’s humiliation.