'Major milestone' as first well completed at controversial fracking site

Work on creating the first well at a controversial Lancashire fracking site has been completed.

Energy firm Cuadrilla said drilling of the UK's first horizontal shale gas well had been successfully completed at its site on Preston New Road in Fylde.

The company will now begin drilling a second well and has planning permission for a total of four wells on the site.

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A spokesman for the firm said it would apply for permission to frack the completed well in the "very near future" and planned to be in a position to frack the first two wells on site later this year.

CEO Francis Egan said: "Our completion of the UK's first ever horizontal shale gas well is a major milestone towards getting Lancashire gas flowing into Lancashire homes as we lead the way on UK exploration.

"From the data we have amassed so far we are optimistic that, after fracturing the shale rock, natural gas will flow into this horizontal well in commercially viable quantities demonstrating that the UK's huge shale gas resources can be safely produced and contribute to improving the UK's energy security."

Anti-fracking protest
Anti-fracking protest

The site was initially refused planning permission by Lancashire County Council in 2015 but was given the go-ahead by Cabinet minister Sajid Javid following an appeal and a planning inquiry.

Campaign groups lost a High Court action to overturn the decision, but protests have continued at the site.

The controversial process of fracking involves drilling vertically deep underground and then horizontally, before pumping in liquid at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release gas trapped in the shale.

A planning inquiry on a second Cuadrilla site, at Roseacre Wood in Lancashire, is due to be held next week.