Around lunchtime on Thursday, Allan Wensley and his family made their way to the drilling site that Cuadrilla has constructed on his Lancashire farm and entered a small cabin next to the rig. There, supervised by one of Cuadrilla’s contractors, he pressed a button on a control panel and sent a drill-bit rotating downwards to bore a 16in hole through the concrete base of the site and into the ground below. Cuadrilla had hoped that this moment would come almost three years ago. Now, after thousands of pages of environmental assessments, months of planning delays, a public inquiry and the arrest of more than 200 protesters trying to frustrate its efforts, it was finally drilling a shale gas exploration well. To its proponents, it could mark the start of a national industry developing vast indigenous resources to bolster Britain’s energy security. To its detractors, it represents the industrialisation of the countryside in pursuit of an environmentally unsustainable fossil fuel that may not even prove possible to extract.
Times 19th Aug 2017 read more »