REAF press release.
It comes as no surprise to members of REAF, Ribble Estuary Against Fracking, that exploratory drilling company Cuadrilla are to abandon the Becconsall site and remove over 150 monitoring stations in the local area. Their failure to comply with time frames and mitigation measures imposed on them by Lancashire County Council has shown their disregard for the planning process and has left locals with many unanswered questions.
The first application to drill at the site in 2010 slipped through quietly without the need for a committee decision by LCC. Alarm bells soon rang as the 0.99 Hectare site avoided the 1 hectare rule for which an Environmental Impact Assessment would have been compulsory.
A time extension and fracking application at the Becconsall site followed in 2012 by which time Cuadrilla had been found responsible for causing 50 seismic events through fracking at their Preese Hall Site near Blackpool.
The River Ribble Estuary is designated as a RAMSAR wetland site of international importance as it is home to tens of thousands of European protected geese and swans who spend the winter feeding on the mudflats of the Estuary and in the surrounding fields.
Situated only 700 metres from the Estuary and within a Biological Heritage Site, the Becconsall well posed a threat to the ongoing success of some of our most important wetland migratory species. Concerns were raised by Natural England, Friends of the Earth, Lancs County Council Ecologist and a REAF commissioned ecology consultant who conducted an extended phase 1 habitat survey.
Referencing reports on the failings at Preese Hall and peer reviewed scientific data on the effects of fracking to human health and the environment REAF raised objections to the development of the Becconsall Site.
Lancs County Council Development Control Committee gave permission for REAF to present their findings. Immediately after the presentation by REAF members, the applicant withdrew an application which involved hydraulic fracturing of the well. A subsequent application to perforate the well and monitor was passed but the applicant failed to meet conditions and now intends to restore the site next spring back to prime agricultural land.
REAF would like to thank all those who have supported us as we continue our work with other communities faced with the dangers of unconventional onshore oil and gas extraction.