Onshore fracking to begin in UK 'within weeks'

Controversial practice set to begin in North Yorkshire amid protests

Benjamin Kentish
Thursday 05 October 2017 23:50 BST
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An engineer passes a fracking facility near Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire
An engineer passes a fracking facility near Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire (PA)

Fracking for shale gas will begin in the UK within weeks, the company undertaking it for the first time has announced.

Third Energy said it plans to complete five fracks in North Yorkshire before the end of 2017.

The controversial technique involves injecting liquid into underground rock at high pressures in order to create cracks that release trapped gas. This is then collected and used to generate electricity.

​Fracking has been vocally opposed by environmental campaigners but permits to use the technique have been approved by government ministers.

Alan Linn, Third Energy’s technical director, said the final sign-off needed for fracking to begin was “imminent”.

He said: "We're beginning to prepare for the work-over phase of the well and that should commence shortly. It will probably take us about two weeks. Once we've completed that successfully then we would begin to move into the frack.

"We can't do that until we've got our final regulatory approvals in place and we hope those will happen imminently. We expect to be finished and wrapped up with the actual fracking before the end of the year.”

At that stage, he added, the company hopes it will be extracting gas for use at the nearby Knapton power station.

Mr Linn said he thought the first onshore frack in the UK would “change everything” because the debate around the technique will be “informed by an actual frack”.

The fracks will be carried out between 8,000 and 10,000 feet underground and are expected to last for up to two hours each time. They will only take place during daylight hours in order to minimise disruption for local people.

Dozens of campaigners have been camped at Third Energy’s well site near the village of Kirby Misperton since the company began moving equipment into place last month. A number of them have been arrested.

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said: "A total of 26 people were arrested at the site in September 2017.

"Two were released with no further action, two accepted cautions, and the other 22 have been charged to court for offences including obstructing the highway, assaulting a police officer, and obstructing a police officer."

Additional reporting by agencies.

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