Local families set for windfalls as fracking firm Cuadrilla plans new Lancashire locations

 

Environment Editor

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Families living near two proposed fracking sites in Lancashire could be in for windfalls of up to £6,000 apiece, it emerged yesterday as plans for Britain’s first full-scale fracking site were announced.

Cuadrilla, the fracking company backed by British Gas, said it wants to frack for shale gas next year between Blackpool and Preston – a move that could see the 130 local households sharing up to £800,000.

This will be the first planning application a company has made to frack anywhere in the UK since a moratorium on the highly controversial practice was lifted in December 2012. The 18-month suspension was put in place after the first and only fracking ever undertaken in the country was found to have caused earth tremors near Blackpool. That site – also operated by Cuadrilla – has since been closed down.

Oil and gas companies have raised the possibility of fracking elsewhere in the UK, most notably at the West Sussex village of Balcombe and in Barton Moss near Manchester, but this is the first time a formal application is being lodged for permission to carry out the technique. It is expected to be the first in a stampede of such planning applications in the next few years.

Local communities in Lancashire stand to benefit from a £100,000 payment for each of the four wells Cuadrilla hopes to frack at each site. The bulk of this is expected to be shared between the 130 local households Cuadrilla has identified, in the villages of Roseacre, Little Plumpton and Great Plumpton.

The money will be distributed by The Community Foundation for Lancashire, which can channel it directly to the households in the form of cash or spend it on local community projects.

Cuadrilla, which is chaired by former BP chief executive Lord Browne, yesterday kicked off a process of consultation and environmental assessments with local communities.

Cuadrilla chief executive France Egan said: “We’ve been working hard to assess our site options and have undertaken extensive technical and geological analysis. As a result of this work, we have decided to focus on just two sites at this time.”

Interactive: What is hydraulic fracking?

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, releases gas from shale by blasting a mixture of sand, chemicals and water into the rock. It has been linked to earth tremors and water pollution. However, the government has decided that fracking can proceed, as long as it is under strict supervision.

Some campaigners predicted that Cuadrilla’s proposals would meet with significant protests, despite the financial inducements being offered to nearby households.

Helen Rimmer, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “These plans will be met by stiff opposition from local people rightly concerned about having the UK’s first attempted multiple-well fracking operation under their feet.”

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