Villages’ fracking fears

Land off Sandy Lane, Brindle.

Land off Sandy Lane, Brindle.

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FEARS have been raised that a hugely controversial method of gas drilling could eventually be heading to Chorley.

Fracking has already been responsible for two earthquakes less than 30 miles away.

And councillors in Brindle and Hoghton were shocked to discover their areas have been included on a drilling permission map by the Government.

Cuadrilla, the energy company carrying out the fracking, says it has no plans for Brindle or Hoghton.

However, it hasn’t stopped councillors fearing what might be around the corner.

And concerned Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle is due to hold talks with industry representatives on the issue.

Fracking involves drilling thousands of metres into the earth and shooting water and chemicals underground to extract gas

It has been estimated that Britain is sitting on billions of pounds worth of shale gas.

Fracking has already been taking place on the Fylde, where there has been a huge amount of protest.

It was put on hold last year, after test drilling by UK energy company Cuadrilla, caused two minor earthquakes near Blackpool.

Cuadrilla confirmed Brindle and Hoghton were on the edge of the company’s 1,200km licence area for which the company has permission from the Government for exploration.

Brindle Parish Council is closely monitoring the situation and has written to Lancashire County Council for confirmation it is on the licence permission map.

Last month, Brindle parish councillor and Lancashire county councillor Tom Sharratt attended two public meetings on fracking in
St Annes, where he saw a map which indicated the extent of the drilling permission issued by the Government.

It showed that the eastern boundary of permission would include parts of Brindle and Hoghton.

He said in view of the information he had received, the possibility of earthquakes in the parish were not as remote as previously imagined.

Brindle and Hoghton ward councillor David Dickinson said: “I hope it doesn’t affect Brindle and Hoghton.

“I know the villagers will be just as much against it as everybody else.”

As regards the earthquakes that hit Blackpool, he said: “We certainly don’t want that round here.

“It’s worrying, of course it is, and we will certainly be keeping an eye on it and making inquiries very quickly as soon as we get Tom’s report.”

Lindsay Hoyle MP said: “I think that there are merits in exploring fracking as a potential resource – but I know from constituents that there is real concern about the impact in Lancashire.”

He added: “Energy supply is important. However, the safety of our area must take absolute precedence.

“I think that there are questions about the impact on the water table as well.

“I’m meeting with industry representatives in the coming weeks to get a briefing on the matter.”

Just last month, an engineer who spent two years researching fracking told a public meeting on the Fylde that the method must be regulated to protect health and safety.

Michael Hill, a former advisor to Fylde Council, warned against the dangers and said without the correct regulations there would be “serious trouble”.

He is now calling for councillors to ensure Cuadrilla is carrying out a robust inspection regime maintained by random site visits.

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said: “Cuadrilla’s licence area covers some 1,200 square kilometres in Lancashire.

“This licence from the Department of Energy and Climate Change permits only ‘exploration’, intended to establish whether it is viable to recover natural gas from shale rock deep beneath the surface.

“This exploration work is taking place at a small number of sites in the Fylde and at one site in West Lancashire near the Ribble Estuary.

“We have no plans whatsoever to carry out any exploration work in the Chorley area.”