Fracking firm Cuadrilla drilling for shale gas in Lancashire

The Cuadrilla drill rig at Preston New Road shale gas exploration siteImage source, Cuadrilla
Image caption,
Cuadrilla has started drilling a pilot well, approximately 3,500m (11,500 ft) deep

Drilling has begun at a fracking site in Lancashire.

Cuadrilla started drilling a pilot well on Thursday to identify the best locations for shale gas extraction at the Preston New Road site in Little Plumpton.

The pilot well approximately 3,500m (11,500 ft) deep will be followed by two horizontal wells.

Protests have been taking place at the site since work began to prepare for drilling in January.

Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, said it is "an important milestone for the energy industry in the UK as well as the community in Lancashire".

Media caption,
How fracking will take place in Lancashire

Helen Rimmer from campaign group Friends of the Earth said the drilling means "local people will be subject to 24-hour noise, seven days a week, from a fracking project that they don't even want."

As per its agreement with the government, Cuadrilla has put £100,000 into a fund which the local community can use for projects in the area.

What is fracking?

Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside.

Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.

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