Anti-fracking campaigners have called for a halt on shale gas exploration following the severe flooding in the region.
Residents from the area around the proposed test fracking sites at Preston New Road and Roseacre have said the areas’ fields and some roads have been left heavily waterlogged – which could make fracking an environmental problem.
They said the flooding showed that the Environment Agency, one of the bodies set to monitor fracking, was struggling to manage with its funding having been dramatically slashed by the Government.
Preston New Road Action Group spokeswoman Claire Stephenson said: “Only last year, Cuadrilla worryingly stated: ‘Very little of the fracture fluid actually ever returns to the surface…’ So when we inject the water in there most of it does not come back. There are lots of theories.
“No one knows exactly what is going on or where the water goes or where the final resting place is. If the fracking companies themselves don’t know, who does?”
She said the frack site drains towards Carr Bridge Brook. She added: “There are houses and a smallholding right next to this brook, both of which are currently flooded.”
Barbara Martin, spokeswoman for Roseacre Action Group, said: “Any accidents or spillages on-site could mean contaminated water is released into the surrounding fields and water courses especially in times of flooding.
“Niggett and Thistleton Brook run alongside the Roseacre site. This is connected directly to the River Wyre and Morecambe Bay.”
A spokesman for Frack Free Lancashire said: “A moratorium on fracking is essential to allow us to evaluate yet another critically-important aspect of this risky industry.”
But Andrew Quarles, Cuadrilla’s technical director, said the recent heavy rain was not a barrier to fracking.
He said: “We can confirm that neither of our proposed exploration sites in Lancashire were flooded during the recent bad weather.
“Furthermore, a thorough Flood Risk Assessment was completed by independent, expert consultants for both sites and it concluded that the proposed works would not increase flood risk either on or offsite.
“In regards to the allegations made regarding ground water contamination we are happy to reiterate and reassure people that there is no risk of this as UK regulation states no hazardous chemicals to ground water can be used in the fracking process and any flow back water must be treated at a properly-licenced treatment centre.”