Third environmental permit breach this year by Cuadrilla at Lancs fracking site

Preston New Road site aerial

New documents released by the Environmental Agency reveal that fracking firm Cuadrilla breached environmental controls at its Lancashire shale gas exploration site in August.

It is the third time since Cuadrilla began work in January that the regulator has censured the energy firm for breaches of its environmental permit at Preston New Road near Blackpool.

On this occasion, the Environment Agency (EA) discovered the firm was failing to store its drilling waste correctly. Drilling cuttings are the waste dirt and broken bits of rock removed from a borehole as part of the underground drilling process and may contain naturally occurring radiation and chemicals.  

The EA’s inspection report notes that Cuadrilla was using standard metal skips to store the ‘spoilt’ drilling waste. These, it found, were not ‘hydro tested for leaks’ or ‘appropriately certified for integrity’ as required under the agreed waste management plan, which classifies ‘spoiled’ drilling waste as hazardous. 

This non-compliance, the EA warned, could ‘foreseeably result in a minor environmental effect’. It ordered the firm to use the correct storage containers and conduct both weekly visual integrity checks and annual thickness testing. 

Revelations of this latest breach will do little to assuage local residents’ concerns over Cuadrilla’s fracking plans for Lancashire and beyond. The company has a less than exemplary track record at its UK exploration sites, with breaches of planning permits and environmental controls dating back to 2011.  

Nor will it help build confidence in a fledgling industry that has repeatedly promised to operate to gold-plated standards. 

Indeed, in July as protests were heating up for a month of action at fracking sites in Lancashire and Yorkshire, the Environment Agency’s oil and gas team chief Mark Ellis Jones warned the shale gas industry it could no longer afford to ignore the rules.

‘Compliance with our environmental permits is probably the most single [important] thing they need to do,’ he told a Westminster Energy and Environment Forum meeting, according to Drill or Drop

‘This is going to be key to regaining the trust and their social licence in the communities in which they operate,’ said Ellis Jones.

Yet just weeks later on 1st August, the EA spotted Cuadrilla’s drilling waste breach during a site inspection. It has come to light only now because the EA report was not released on the regulator’s public website until last week.

The two earlier environmental breaches this year at Preston New Road recorded by the EA in March were likewise not made public until months afterward. On that occasion, the EA censured Cuadrilla for allowing the illegal discharge of excess water containing silt from its site to reach a downstream local brook’s tributary twice in one week. It also reprimanded the firm for having ‘inadequate’ surface water management systems, which it ordered must be improved ‘to prevent…pollution’.

Cuadrilla says it has now dealt with the excessive surface water, according to minutes from the June meeting of its Preston New Road community liaison group (CLG). The group’s chair however questioned whether Cuadrilla (and the EA) are ‘learning on the job’, and perhaps should have anticipated flooding might arise from heavy rainfall.

Interestingly, the EA inspectors a month after this meeting specifically noted in their August report that 'contingency plans should be in place for periods of heavy or prolonged rainfall and any changes in the normal conditions'. This would, they said, be 'checked at a future inspection'.

At the same June meeting, several CLG members also expressed serious concern over the lack of a site-specific emergency plan for Preston New Road. Cuadrilla’s PR man Sam Schofield argued the fracking site currently did not need to be treated any differently than a construction site; also brushing aside the chair’s concerns over radioactive materials by stating this was the same radium as found in Brazil nuts – a common industry riposte. The minutes show however that most of the attendees, which included local councillors, residents and regulators, voted in support of a bespoke plan to be developed before drilling began at the site in August.

Cuadrilla’s fightback against what it calls ‘myths’ and ‘misinformation’ saw the company earlier this month invite selected journalists to take a look inside Preston New Road. It also livestreamed its own Q&A webcast and first fracking online tour, fronted by an ex-BBC political editor. 

The video includes footage showing how the drilling muds and cuttings are processed and separated, but not where the waste is stored.


Well services director Eric Vaughan explained that while the drilling mud is usually re-used to lubricate the drill bit, the drilling cuttings end up in ‘skips’ which are ‘sealed’ and are later taken off to a waste treatment facility.

However, he did not specify whether the drilling mud and cuttings were oil-based (classed hazardous), water-based (non-hazardous) or a combination of both. 


Extract: Classification of drilling mud and cuttings from the Cuadrilla Preston New Road waste management plan (originally 2014, updated June 2017)


Environmental Agency compliance inspection report 1 August 2017

  • Cuadrilla
  • Environment Agency
  • Preston New Road
  • Drilling waste
  • Blogs

    Dear friends of this aggregator

    • Yes, I intentionally removed Newsbud from the aggregator on Mar 22.
    • Newsbud did not block the aggregator, although their editor blocked me on twitter after a comment I made to her
    • As far as I know, the only site that blocks this aggregator is Global Research. I have no idea why!!
    • Please stop recommending Newsbud and Global Research to be added to the aggregator.

    Support this site

    News Sources

    Source Items
    WWI Hidden History 50
    Grayzone Project 60
    Pass Blue 134
    Dilyana Gaytandzhieva 14
    John Pilger 415
    The Real News 367
    Scrutinised Minds 29
    Need To Know News 2149
    FEE 3982
    Marine Le Pen 288
    Francois Asselineau 25
    Opassande 53
    HAX on 5July 220
    Henrik Alexandersson 734
    Mohamed Omar 298
    Professors Blog 10
    Arg Blatte Talar 40
    Angry Foreigner 17
    Fritte Fritzson 12
    Teologiska rummet 32
    Filosofiska rummet 91
    Vetenskapsradion Historia 139
    Snedtänkt (Kalle Lind) 199
    Les Crises 2367
    Richard Falk 142
    Ian Sinclair 92
    SpinWatch 56
    Counter Currents 7784
    Kafila 407
    Gail Malone 34
    Transnational Foundation 221
    Rick Falkvinge 94
    The Duran 8527
    Vanessa Beeley 93
    Nina Kouprianova 9
    MintPress 5315
    Paul Craig Roberts 1448
    News Junkie Post 58
    Nomi Prins 27
    Kurt Nimmo 191
    Strategic Culture 4235
    Sir Ken Robinson 20
    Stephan Kinsella 79
    Liberty Blitzkrieg 831
    Sami Bedouin 62
    Consortium News 2359
    21 Century Wire 3259
    Burning Blogger 318
    Stephen Gowans 76
    David D. Friedman 148
    Anarchist Standard 16
    The BRICS Post 1496
    Tom Dispatch 465
    Levant Report 18
    The Saker 3876
    The Barnes Review 502
    John Friend 411
    Psyche Truth 146
    Jonathan Cook 135
    New Eastern Outlook 3537
    School Sucks Project 1757
    Giza Death Star 1739
    Andrew Gavin Marshall 15
    Red Ice Radio 589
    GMWatch 2049
    Robert Faurisson 150
    Espionage History Archive 34
    Jay's Analysis 854
    Le 4ème singe 88
    Jacob Cohen 203
    Agora Vox 13404
    Cercle Des Volontaires 427
    Panamza 1930
    Fairewinds 109
    Project Censored 808
    Spy Culture 448
    Conspiracy Archive 70
    Crystal Clark 11
    Timothy Kelly 528
    PINAC 1482
    The Conscious Resistance 705
    Independent Science News 70
    The Anti Media 6162
    Positive News 820
    Brandon Martinez 30
    Steven Chovanec 61
    Lionel 276
    The Mind renewed 434
    Natural Society 2563
    Yanis Varoufakis 901
    Tragedy & Hope 122
    Dr. Tim Ball 97
    Web of Debt 136
    Porkins Policy Review 386
    Conspiracy Watch 174
    Eva Bartlett 579
    Libyan War Truth 307
    DeadLine Live 1909
    Kevin Ryan 62
    BSNEWS 2014
    Aaron Franz 209
    Traces of Reality 166
    Revelations Radio News 121
    Dr. Bruce Levine 136
    Peter B Collins 1457
    Faux Capitalism 205
    Dissident Voice 10078
    Climate Audit 222
    Donna Laframboise 397
    Judith Curry 1095
    Geneva Business Insider 40
    Media Monarchy 2179
    Syria Report 76
    Human Rights Investigation 90
    Intifada (Voice of Palestine) 1685
    Down With Tyranny 10984
    Laura Wells Solutions 39
    Video Rebel's Blog 420
    Revisionist Review 485
    Aletho News 19108
    ضد العولمة 27
    Penny for your thoughts 2850
    Northerntruthseeker 2220
    كساريات 37
    Color Revolutions and Geopolitics 27
    Stop Nato 4690 Blog 2867 Original Content 6530
    Corbett Report 2205
    Stop Imperialism 491
    Land Destroyer 1148
    Webster Tarpley Website 1040

    Compiled Feeds

    Public Lists

    Title Visibility
    Funny Public