Fit for fracking

Lucie Ponting looks at the issues facing practitioners working to minimise the risks of onshore gas operations

The decision by the government last October to overrule Lancashire County Council and allow onshore gas operator Cuadrilla to drill at its Preston New Road site is further evidence, if it were needed, of the strength of its commitment to shale gas extraction. This latest move – alongside Third Energy’s planning consent for a site near Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire, which is being challenged in the High Court – makes it likely that hydraulic fracturing will again be under way in England by the end of this year.

Public disquiet over fracking, including opposition from local communities and environment groups, persists. Amid this, environment practitioners are taking pivotal roles to identify, minimise and control the risks associated with the process and ensure the shale gas operators meet the necessary standards.

Steve Thompsett, executive director of UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG), which represents the operators, says: ‘Without environmentalists scrutinising the industry, looking at the process, asking the questions and trying to assess where the risks are, we would all be learning by our mistakes,’ he says. ‘That is to an extent what has happened in the US. In the UK, we keep ahead of the curve by engaging openly on ...

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