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Preston New Road Fracking Site (aka Little Plumpton), Lancashire, UK

Community groups tried many routes to prevent a UK energy company from fracking in Lancashire. The company's licence was granted after central Government intervention; activists appealed. They won in 2019 as the company withdrew.


 In February 2014 Cuadrilla Resources (aka Cuadrilla Bowland Limited), a UK energy comapny, announced plans to apply for planning permission to carry out horizontal high pressure hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of four wells at each of two sites in Lancashire. One site is at Little Plumptons, also referred to as the Preston New Road Site. The site is situated a few miles from Blackpool. These applications are part of a larger plan to drill up to 100 wellpads in the licence area (PEDL 165) covering 1180sq km, with up to forty horizontal wells per pad. Each horizontal well could travel over two kilometres underground. This means practically every square metre of the rural Fylde would be fracked under.  Drilling companies believe trillions of cubic feet of shale gas may be recoverable from beneath parts of the UK and more than 200 onshore exploration licences have been awarded to energy companies. In 2011, all fracking was suspended in the UK after it caused earthquakes near Blackpool. The ban was lifted in 2012.  In August 2014 a group calling themselves the Nanas staged a three-week anti-fracking occupation on one of the fields in the planning area, with the support of a group called Reclaim the Power. Cuadrilla, which had rented the field from a farmer, argued that the occupation caused disruption and distress to the farmer’s family and his business, and applied for an injunction to prevent further protests in the area. The company was granted the injunction to prevent activists from entering land throughout the Fylde peninsula in Lancashire in October 2014. A member of the Nanas, Tina Louise Rothery, was the only named defendant in the case and Cuadrilla’s legal costs were awarded against her. She refused to pay the £55,000 legal fees to the oil and gas company and in December 2016 a judge discharged the order against her and she was spared jail.  Preston New Road Action Group (PNRAG) obtained a reversal of Lancashire County Council’s recommendation to grant Cuadrilla’s applications on 29 June 2015. Cuadrilla’s fracking application and second application to create 90 seismic activity monitoring stations were refused by the Development Control Committee.  More than 50,000 people signed a petition calling for a rejection of the fracking applications. The share price of iGas, the UK’s biggest shale company, dropped sharply after the council’s announcement.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Preston New Road Fracking Site (aka Little Plumpton), Lancashire, UK
Country:United Kingdom
State or province:Lancashire
Location of conflict:Preston
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Shale gas fracking
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Specific commodities:Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Planning permission has been given for four wells at the site, but Cuadrilla will concentrate on drilling a pilot well 3,500 metres deep in 2017 and two horizontal wells. The contract for the construction is worth £1.5m and Cuadrilla has said the work would involve dozens of people.

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Level of Investment for the conflictive projectAround 1,860,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:01/02/2014
Company names or state enterprises:Cuadrilla Resources from United Kingdom
Centrica from United Kingdom
Relevant government actors:Lancashire County Council
Fylde Borough Council
Environment Agency
Public Health England
Health and Safety Executive
Oil and Gas Authority
The Green Party
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Preston New Road Action Group (community group) -
Frack Free Lancashire -
Frack Off -
Stop Fylde Fracking -
Friends of the Earth
Reclaim the Power -
The Nanas
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Boycotts of companies-products
Opponents watching the site 24 hours a day. Refusal to pay legal expenses to defend the land.
Protesters blockading exit points from delivery sites of companies who deliver materials to Cuadrilla’s site, resulting in companies stopping deliveries.
Lock-on protests.
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Other socio-economic impactsDepression of house prices
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Proposal and development of alternatives:Apart from opposing fracking as such, residents have been calling for immediate action for radon monitoring and have said drilling should be delayed for six months so baseline data can be collected.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:As legal proceedings were still ongoing in the High Court, this conflict was not yet over. However, by 2019 (see Update in "Source of Conflict"), Cuadrilla Resources withdrew.
Sources & Materials

Work begins at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking site
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Cuadrilla to appeal against fracking refusal by Lancashire county council
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Fracking application rejected by Lancashire county council
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Fracking in Lancashire given go-ahead by government
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Fracking gets go-ahead in UK for first time since 2011 as North Yorkshire council approves plans
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A gamble with our health
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Residents feel betrayed over failure to test for radon around Lancashire fracking site
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#OMG – operation mothers and grandmas
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Fracking at Preston New Road: Cuadrilla's work begins for shale gas extraction
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Anti-fracking Nanas: 'The government is all out for shale – we're all out to stop it'
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Anti-fracking activist spared jail after refusing to pay court £55,000
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Residents demand stricter monitoring of Cuadrilla’s fracking site
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Fracking given UK go-ahead as Lancashire council rejection overturned
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Cuadrilla starts work on Lancashire fracking site
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Government statement confirms fracking is still allowed under moratorium – campaigners
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Other comments:Many arrests have been made of protesters at the site, e.g.:
10 January 2017 - a 31-year-old man was arrested outside the site under section 241 of the Trades Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act.
31st January 2017 - 4 people arrested after lock-on at entrance to Preston New Road site.
8 February 2017 - Photojournalist, Peter Yankowski, was arrested during a slow-walking protest of vehicles from A E Yates. He was charged with obstructing the highway and is to appear at Bolton Magistrates Court on 7 March 2017.
A representative of PNRAG following upholding of Cuadrilla appeal said: “There is no social licence to proceed with fracking in Lancashire. Overwhelmingly, the communities affected said no. We continue to say no. We will not be silenced on this, for silence implies acceptance. There is no acceptance of a fracking industry. The decision by this lone voice in Westminster to overturn local democracy, has reverberated throughout the country. It begs the question of whether local democracy even exists, if it can be set aside in order to facilitate the interests of corporate industry. Therefore, we seek to prove that this judgement is essentially flawed. We intend to invoke further legal routes to challenge this ruling and deem it unlawful.”
Meta information
Contributor:Rhia Weston
Last update10/12/2021
Conflict ID:2657
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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