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article imageControversial new fracking to go ahead in U.K.

By Tim Sandle     Oct 6, 2016 in Environment
The path is clear for fracking to go ahead in the U.K. after the British government upheld a fracking appeal in what is being heralded as a landmark ruling, paving the way for shale gas extraction.
The judicial support for fracking means that horizontal fracking can begin at the Preston New Road site at Little Plumpton in Lancashire.
Hydraulic fracturing describes a well-stimulation technique whereby rock is fractured by a pressurized liquid ('fracking fluid' made up of water, containing sand or other proppants - materials designed to keep an induced hydraulic fracture open) pumped into a wellbore to create cracks through which natural gas, will flow and can be extracted. The process has proponents, who see the release of low-cost gas, and opponents who are concerned with the environmental impact.
Fracking can be achieved vertically or horizontally. Horizontal drilling reduces surface disruptions as fewer wells are required to access the same volume of rock.
British Geological map of UK survey
British Geological map of UK survey
British Geological Survey
Earlier this year Conservative Party minister Sajid Javid approved plans for fracking at the northern site. This was opposed by a consortium of environmental groups and representative of the local community, arguing there was no democratic mandate for the shale gas extraction (on the basis that the local community did not want it.) The decision to reject the fracking proposal was also supported by the local council. To add to this environmental groups like Friends of the Earth pointed out that a continued reliance upon fossil fuels was not the right way for future energy investment and made a case for alternative means for energy production.
However, the company wishing to begin fracking – Cuadrilla – appealed. The argument, that the local community did not want fracking, has not stood up in court, and the appeal has been rejected.
The social media trends in response to the news have been generally negative, for example:
Reclaim The Power (@reclaimthepower) "WE WILL STAND WITH LANCASHIRE. #Cuadrilla have no social licence to operate - just dodgy politicians. No to #fracking. #KeepItInTheGround"
Doug Parr (@doug_parr) ""#fracking under homes in Lancashire has been approved by UK Government, overruling decision of local councillors"
The outcome is that U.K. shale rock will be, for the first time, fracked horizontally. This process, spatially different to vertical fracking, is said to yield more gas.
Speaking with BBC Environment, Cuadrilla’s chief executive Francis Egan stated: "We have been through an exhaustive environmental impact assessment on this. We have assessed everything; noise, traffic, water, emissions, etc.” Cuadrilla expects to begin fracking at the end of 2017.
A decision over a second site at Roseacre Wood is pending, based on an appeal about the impact of the fracking process on the local environment.
Fracking is potentially a lucrative market in the U.K. Energy companies have data that indicates there are trillions of cubic feet of shale gas that is potentially recoverable from beneath parts of the U.K. To date some 200 exploration licences have been awarded to energy companies.
More about Fracking, horizontal fracking, Shale gas, Gas, Energy
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