Work has begun today at a fracking site in Lancashire, paving the way for it to become the first well to be fracked in the UK since 2011.
Energy company Cuadrilla say they are starting work by building an access road at the Preston New Road site today. Initial work is expected to take three months, before drilling begins in the Lancashire field - the site will be roughly the size of a rugby pitch.
Lancashire County Council initially turned down Cuadrilla’s planning application, but this was overturned by communities secretary Sajid Javid in October 2016.
Anti-fracking group Frack Off claims that local communities are opposed to the site, and are “mobilising to resist.”
Claire Stephenson from Preston New Road Action Group said: "It is incredibly disappointing to learn via an outside channel, that Cuadrilla intend to begin works at the Preston New Road. It's also quite poor judgement on their behalf, due to there still being an outstanding legal challenge by ourselves on the "fundamentally flawed" planning decision made by the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid.
“If this is Cuadrilla's delivery of their 'community engagement' standards, they have failed in the first instance. Local residents were not even informed of their plans. It's discourteous and reaffirms the continued lack of social license that this company has in Lancashire and beyond."
Reclaim the Power, a UK based direct action group, has sent a clear message in a statement today: "We will not allow the development of a new climate and community wrecking industry. We will stand with the people of Lancashire and everyone fighting fracking across the country and beyond, we will put our bodies on the line to prevent this from happening. The democratic process has failed us, and now is the time for direct action."
Environmental concerns are at the heart of anti-fracking groups. During the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process, a mixture of water, sand and chemicals are injected into shale rock, which has the potential to contaminate groundwater with chemicals. Transporting vast amounts of water to the fracking site in the first place also sees the arrival of increased traffic.
A study has shown that fracking has an impact on the earth’s surface, and can contribute to earthquakes. Satellite images even show the Earth’s surface buckling slightly near the site of the 2012 Timpson earthquake in Texas, which was close to a fracking site. In the UK, fracking work was halted when tremors were felt in Blackpool. It is thought that injecting fracking waste water at high pressure is causing these quakes.
The war against fracking has seen protests outside Buckingham Palace from the Anti-fracking Nanas, and a small victory for the Swanage Protection Camp. It remains to be seen what the future holds for the Lancashire fracking site.