Work to prepare the first UK site for fracking has begun in Lancashire despite major opposition.
Last October the Government overruled a decision by Lancashire County Council and approved plans put forward by Preston-based Cuadrilla, enabling the firm to test the development of shale gas at Preston New Road.
Campaigners opposing shale gas extraction have raised concerns about the safety of the fracking process and what effects it could have on their businesses and the wider environment.
Robert Sanderson, who farms in Kirkham, and Andrew Pemberton, who milks 140 cows at Birks Farm, Lytham, were particularly concerned about any contamination of land and water.
Mr Pemberton said: “We bend over backwards to ensure invertebrates and our wildlife are protected. We cannot even dig a ditch without permission, yet something which is completely untested and on a massive scale can just go ahead?"
Mr Pemberton said if concerns over the technology’s safety rang true, producers’ reputations in the area could be seriously tarnished.
He said: “We could be blighted by this for many years – look what Chernobyl did to Cumbria and that was hundreds of miles away.”
Cuadrilla said drilling will commence in about three months’ time.
A final decision on a second site, Roseacre Wood, has been delayed to allow Cuadrilla to give more evidence about any traffic impact.
Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla Resources, described the move as a game-changer for the UK energy market, adding it would see £20 million injected into the local economy.
He reassured those living and working in the vicinity that work would be undertaken to the ’highest safety and environmental standards’ and would be closely monitored.
Fracking in the UK