The Becconsall shale gas exploration site is located near Banks in Lancashire and an exploratory well was successfully drilled by Cuadrilla in 2011 with rock samples recovered and other geological measurements recorded. No fracking took place at the site.
Cuadrilla sought and was granted planning permission by Lancashire County Council on 1 May 2015 to: (i) use monitors to be installed in the existing well to measure the pressure of the gas in the shale rock and (ii) subsequently plug the existing wellbore with cement and restore the site to its original “greenfield” status.
The planning consent contained a condition which required Cuadrilla to place all pressure monitoring equipment on site by 31st May 2015. The equipment could not be secured and mobilised to site within that timeframe and therefore rather than seek to vary the planning condition Cuadrilla decided not to pursue the pressure testing and will move on to plug the well with cement and fully restore the site in 2016.
In accordance with the planning consent well plugging and site restoration work will be carried out after the wintering bird’s season, ending 31st March 2016 and before the deadline set by Lancashire County Council of 31st October 2016. Cuadrilla will inform local residents in advance of exactly when the work will begin next year.
During the summer of 2015 Cuadrilla decommissioned 159 seismic monitoring stations near to the site, with permission of the relevant landowners. All of the sites were fully restored by October 2015.