Cuadrilla, Permits and the EA

Today the Environment Agency finally granted Cuadrilla their environmental permit which was need to allow them to extract shale gas at their proposed site at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton.

The Environment Agency had made it clear last November that they were minded to grant Cuadrilla the environmental permits needed to carry out their operations so this news comes as no surprise.

In the Environment Agency’s Press Release we read that:

Steve Molyneux, Environment Manager for Lancashire, said:
“After completing a rigorous assessment of Cuadrilla’s application and the public consultation responses, we are confident the permits issued will ensure people and the environment are protected. The right controls are in place to manage waste and the flaring of gas safely, and protect local water resources. We value the feedback received during the public consultation and will continue to work with the local community. Should Cuadrilla begin exploration, we will ensure the permit conditions are enforced.”

We have serious concerns about Mr Molyneux’s ability to ensure that the lengthy permit conditions are in fact enforced. The EA’s ability to do so is highly questionable given the recent decimation of staff as a result of the 15% budget cuts at the environment agency in 2013.

As a result it is likely that we will have to rely on Cuadrilla complying with these regulations voluntarily – effectively marking their own homework – at a time when the financial pressure on the shale gas companies is increasing with every downward lurch of the price of oil.

Defend Lytham are worried that financial pressure may lead to corners being cut (as happened in the Gulf of Mexico disaster).

Cuadrilla’s previous track record on complying with regulations at Banks near Southport and in Balcombe does not inspire much confidence.

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