Drone images have revealed preparatory work is well under way at a fracking site on farmland in Lancashire – despite the threat of a legal challenge from protesters.
Lancashire residents are challenging the government’s decision to grant energy firm Cuadrilla Resources permission for temporary shale gas exploration at the site at Preston New Road, near Little Plumpton.
However, footage has emerged on Facebook of a video shot by a drone showing the scale of the operation, which reveals construction work has started.
The High Court in Manchester will hear a case brought by the Preston New Road Action Group (PNRAG) from 15-17 March against the decision to grant Cuadrilla permission for fracking in Fylde.
The residents’ group decided to take legal action after the government overruled Lancashire County Council and granted permission to Cuadrilla to frack land owned by dairy farmers Alan and Andrew Wensley.
Following a public inquiry, the site was recommended for approval by an inspector and then confirmed by communities secretary Sajid Javid last October.
Dairy farmer Robert Sanderson, who farms at Kirkham, is concerned that fertile farmland in the area “could be turned into a desert-like industrial wasteland”.
Tony Holden, a dairy farmer’s son and a heavy plant engineer, said he feared the potential for pollution that fracking could cause to the farm directly and other farms in the area.
“As a farmer’s son, if you love your farm, your family and your community, no amount of money in the world is worth potentially being poisoned,” he added.
Cuadrilla says the shale gas industry could give Lancashire an economic boom, create jobs and increase self-sufficiency in energy.
But Mr Holden questioned whether fracking for shale gas would provide energy security.
“The public is being misled by the government, which says we need shale gas for energy security,” he said.
“We don’t own the power stations and the fracking companies are foreign investors. Where is the energy security in that? If we build fracking well pads all over the land, where is the food security coming from?”
Work under way
Cuadrilla started work to build the site in January and the company says drilling is expected to start later this spring.
A Cuadrilla spokesman said: “We have full planning consent to drill and hydraulically fracture up to four wells at our exploratory shale gas Preston New Road site, two of which we have said we will drill and fracture this year.”
Protests have been held at the site since drilling was approved in October.