The first commercial fracking well in the UK is set to be drilled within weeks in spite of strong opposition from protesters at the site near Blackpool.
Lorries brought a drilling rig to the Lancashire site of shale gas explorer Cuadrilla during the early hours of Thursday under police escort, before anti-fracking activists could block the company’s main gate.
But in an indication of how protesters are determined to try to disrupt Cuadrilla’s operations, later in the day four activists from environmental group Reclaim the Power locked themselves inside cars at the site entrance and placed their arms in concrete so they could not be moved without being injured.
Cuadrilla has had to wait six years to frack again after causing a minor earthquake near Blackpool during a test in 2011.
After securing planning permission from the government last year to frack at a different site in Lancashire, Cuadrilla now hopes to start a long-awaited shale gas revolution in the UK similar to that witnessed in the US.
Britain has an estimated 1,300tn cubic feet of shale gas reserves, mainly in the north of England and the Midlands, according to the British Geological Survey. If 10 per cent could be extracted, it could satisfy the UK’s total gas needs for 50 years, based on current consumption levels, the government has calculated.