Government squashes Cuadrilla hopes to resume fracking in Lancashire anytime soon

The government has moved to dampen industry hopes that fracking will resume in Lancashire from 2021. Australian energy giant AJ Lucas, which as of February 2020 owns 93% of the shares in Bamber Bridge-based oil and gas exploration company Cuadrilla, said the company expects the United Kingdom’s ban on fracking to be lifted from 2021 onwards. 

The company said once the ban is lifted it will continue with hydraulic fracturing once “appropriate measures” were agreed upon to “manage and mitigate risks” from seismic activity.

Fracking has been banned in the UK, including at the Preston New Road site near Little Plumpton, since November 2019 after the Oil and Gas Authority found it is not possible with current technology to accurately predict the probability of tremors associated with fracking. Cuadrilla has already said it sees “limited, if any” operational activity at its Preston New Road fracking site during 2020.

But when approached by LancsLive today (July 9), the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy doubled down on the nationwide fracking ban offering very little chance of change any time soon. A departmental spokesperson said: “Our position has not changed. We will not remove the moratorium on fracking until the science categorically shows that it can be done safely.”

In June, UK energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng also gave the fracking industry very little hope of change any time soon. Speaking to the BBC, Mr Kwarteng said: “We had a moratorium on fracking last year and frankly the debate’s moved on. It’s not something that we’re looking to do. “We’ve always said we’d be evidence-backed, so if there was a time when the science evidence changed our minds, we would be open to that. “But for now, fracking is over.”