Cuadrilla Set to Get Go-Ahead to Drill Gas-Fracking Site in U.K.

Cuadrilla Resources Ltd., the driller whose fracking ambitions have sparked protests in the U.K., took a step closer to sinking a shale-gas well in northwest England as council planners backed the project.

Lancashire Council officials recommended that drilling at the company’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool be approved at a council vote next week. They urged a rejection of its fracking plans at the nearby Roseacre site.

Cuadrilla was forced to scale back drilling proposals earlier this year after council planners opposed its applications for eight wells at the two sites, citing concerns over noise and traffic. Opposition to hydraulic fracturing -- or fracking -- which blasts water, sand and chemicals into rock to release oil and gas, has stymied development of the U.K.’s shale industry since a drilling moratorium was lifted in 2012.

Cuadrilla confirmed the recommendations in a statement on its website. If the plans are approved, the Lichfield, England-based company could be drilling by the end of the year, Chief Executive Officer Francis Egan said in April.

Environmental group Greenpeace urged the council to reject the proposals because of the potential damage to water supplies and air quality.

“It’s a stark choice between protecting their communities’ health and quality of life and working towards a clean-energy future on the one hand, or sacrificing all this for the sake of an unproven and risky industry that may never deliver,” Greenpeace said in a statement.

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