Rejection of Cuadrilla monitoring plan is a “missed opportunity”

Councillors on the Development Control Committee at Lancashire County Council yesterday voted against the recommendations of planning officers and turned down an application for seismic monitoring and pressure testing at a former shale gas well.

The plans, submitted by Cuadrilla, would have seen the former Grange Hill shale gas exploration well, drilled in 2011, repurposed for use in environmental monitoring instead. It explicitly did not include plans for any hydraulic fracturing activity.

The move has been welcomed by opponents of shale gas exploration, but Lee Petts, chief executive at the OESG, says it’s a missed opportunity: “Local people, concerned about the potential for fracking to cause minor earth tremors, would have benefited most from this proposal.

“Cuadrilla and the public could have learned a lot from the tests proposed at the Grange Hill site, which would have helped to allay fears about seismic activity.

“In addition, a better understanding of subsurface conditions could also help to understand the potential for the production of geothermal renewable energy in Lancashire too.

“It is definitely a missed opportunity.”

A Cuadrilla spokesman said: “We are perplexed and disappointed by the decision of Lancashire County Council’s Development Control Committee (DCC) to refuse our planning application for Grange Hill. The refusal was contrary to the advice of Lancashire County Council planning officers, the HSE and the EA all of whom recommended it for approval.

“It is not clear what the technical basis of the Council’s decision was. As a consequence, the Grange Hill well appears to be in planning limbo since permission to plug the well and restore the site has been refused. We are awaiting clarification from the Council before deciding on next steps.”