Protesters gathered on Monday morning outside a drilling site in northwest England, where fracking is returning for the first time in seven years, after a last-minute request for an injunction failed at court on Friday.
The company that will go ahead with the fracking, Cuadrilla Resources, confirmed on Friday that it planned to go ahead with hydraulic fracturing operations at its Preston New Road shale gas exploration site in Lancashire on Saturday, October 13.
On Friday, Justice Supperstone at the High Court in London dismissed a last-minute request for an interim injunction from a campaigner to prevent this from happening.
“We are delighted to be starting our hydraulic fracturing operations as planned,” Cuadrilla’s chief executive Francis Egan said, commenting on the decision.
Cuadrilla, however, had to postpone the drilling from Saturday to Monday due to a storm, with Cuadrilla saying that protests would not halt plans to start the fracturing operations today.
Local police have closed off Preston New Road in both directions, while dozens of protesters gathered outside the Cuadrilla drilling site vow that their fight just “got serious.”
Ginette Evans, 60, told Blackpool Gazzette:
“We'll be monitoring the site 24 hours a day. It is definitely not over, it has just got serious. The fight’s just really started.”
Anti-fracking group Reclaim The Power said on Twitter early on Monday that they are blockading Preston New Road for the start of ‘Green Great Britain Week’ to “stand with the Lancashire locals and stop the start of fracking to prevent climate chaos.”
According to Cuadrilla, the hydraulic fracturing process will take some three months to complete for both horizontal exploration wells. Cuadrilla will then test the flow of natural gas from those two wells with initial results expected in the New Year, the company said on Friday.
In May this year, the UK government announced plans to facilitate timely decisions on shale gas exploration planning applications in England as part of a plan to reduce dependence on gas imports amid an ongoing decline in the UK North Sea’s conventional gas production.