There are reports that the company exploring for shale gas in Lancashire broke the conditions of their planning permission by drilling beyond an agreed time limit and beyond a cut-off date put in place to protect wintering birds.
Lancashire is a county of profound historic origin in the North West of England.
The company in question is British drilling firm, Cuadrilla. According to The Guardian, the breaches came to light during evidence given by Lancashire county council’s head of planning in a trial of anti-fracking protesters. The accusations come amid concern over the regulation of gas fracking. Three of the UK’s biggest environmental groups have already written a warning letter to the nation’s climate and energy secretary, Ed Davey.
“It’s appalling that Cuadrilla is unwilling to respect even the most basic safeguards in the earliest stages of exploration,” said Caroline Lucas, Green party MP, to The Guardian. “Instead of cosying up to the shale gas industry, the government should impose an immediate moratorium on fracking, following in the footsteps of France and Czech Republic.”
Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a relatively new drilling technology that’s revolutionized the energy industry, but caused significant health and environmental concerns. The process has brought massive supplies of fuel to the market. And the technology is now being used to unlock giant oil fields long considered too difficult to tap.
Up until now, the UK government has reportedly argued that existing rules protecting the environment are enough to ensure safe operation of the new technology. But according to The Guardian, critics of fracking claim the blasting of gas from rock deep underground with water and chemicals endangers local water supplies and that the gas produced will drive further climate change. Supporters claim it can be produced safely, providing a low cost fuel which is cleaner than coal.
Mike Clarke is chief executive of the RSPB, who has written to Davey with his counterparts at WWF-UK and Friends of the Earth. He told the newspaper: “We’re concerned that government is pushing ahead with shale gas extraction without clear safeguards in place to protect wildlife and people. The disturbance to wildlife and habitats has not been properly explored and neither has the risk of water contamination.”
Meanwhile, Cuadrilla has reportedly commissioned an ecologist to monitor the birds, once the drilling passes a September 30th deadline.
Photo by Bosc d’Anjou