On 12 January 2018, exploration and production company Cuadrilla announced that it has recently discovered a “very sizeable quantity” of shale gas at its Bowland site in Lancashire (the Site).

Cuadrilla revealed it has drilled to a depth of 2.7km at the Site and to date has recovered 375 feet of core samples. When combined with data gathered from existing shale exploration wells, this has left the company optimistic as to its ability to “drill two horizontal wells…in gas rich zones”. This is complemented by the “excellent” rock quality in the vicinity. These properties are believed to make the site “very suitable to hydraulically fracture”.

Cuadrilla has confirmed that the necessary planning permissions for the construction of the exploratory wells are in place and that preliminary construction has commenced. The fracking process is expected to commence in Spring 2018, with flow rates being tested around six months later.

The announcement of this discovery came on the same date as the Court of Appeal rejected an anti-fracking pressure group’s claim that the use of the Site for fracking purposes was illegal. The application to use the Site for fracking was initially rejected by Lancashire County Council. However, it was subsequently granted by the UK Communities Secretary. This led the pressure group in question to take the case to the Court of Appeal. The Court have now established that the Communities Secretary’s decision contained no legal or procedural errors and have now allowed it to stand.

The pressure group have confirmed their intention to take the case to the UK Supreme Court.

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