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Shale gas exploitation resumes in the United Kingdom

After a seven-year battle against local people and environmentalists, the first hydraulic fracturing in the country since 2011 will begin.

An opponent of shale gas development in Preston, near Blackpool, in northwestern England, in October 2017.

About forty activists gathered on this late August day between the center of the A583 national road and the roadway. Trucks and cars regularly split in half the small crowd, which listens attentively to the speaker who came on the spot. “Here is the front line for the future of our country,” says John Ashton, a former climate change diplomat at the UK Foreign Office between 2006 and 2012.

As an army for this battle, the disparate assembly consists essentially of graying local inhabitants. The battlefield is not much more impressive: it is a large meadow with some little visible infrastructure in the center, located in Preston, near Blackpool, in north-west England. A short distance away, a dozen policemen sitting in a van watch the scene with a distracted eye.

The stake is nevertheless major. Here, in the coming days, the shale gas industry will lead the first hydraulic fracturing in the UK for seven years. After long political, legal and public guerrilla warfare, Cuadrilla is about to start exploring its reserves. The two horizontal wells, which are a little over two kilometers long and some 800 meters long, have already been completed. It remains to inject a very high pressure mixture of water and chemicals to break the rock. Without giving an exact date, the company promised that it would begin before the end of September.

“No one thought it would take so much time”

“We have to stop Cuadrilla,” Ashton insists. For the good of the people who live here, but also for that of the country. If the company wins here, there is a risk of shale gas exploitation throughout the country. Laura Hughes, commercial director of Cuadrilla, is less hyperbolic, but recognizes .

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