British unconventional exploration company Cuadrilla plans to start the drilling stage of its shale gas exploratory plans in northwest England within the next “couple of months,” company CEO Francis Egan said this week.
Egan welcomed the UK’s High Court decision dismissing two claims made against Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid’s approval of planning for Cuadrillla’s Preston New Road site.
Last year, the company had its planning application denied by the local Lancashire councillors, but that was overruled by Javid, following a recommendation to approve from the council’s planning officers.
Opponents to Cuadrilla’s hydraulic fracturing (fracking) plan, the Preston New Road Action Group, legally challenged the grant, and asked the High Court to rule against the government’s approval of the project.
“We respected the democratic right of those opposed to this consent to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision. However we always remained confident that the planning consent would stand,” said Egan, in a statement sent to Kallanish Energy.
The CEO, who a number of times expressed frustration with the lengthy permit application process, is “very pleased” with the outcome.
“Work continues on the construction of the exploration site and we look forward to move to the drilling stage of our operations within the next couple of months,” he added.
Cuadrilla’s horizontal drilling program is one of the few in the UK since 2012. Fracking is reportedly expected in the third quarter, with gas expected to flow into the local grid in early 2018.