Could shale gas fuel UK homes by 2015?

British shale gas could be fuelling homes as soon as next year if planning applications submitted by fracking company Cuadrilla are given the go-ahead.

The company has selected two fracking locations in Lancashire, near the villages of Roseacre and Little Plumpton, and could begin drilling at the end of 2014 and fracking by next summer in a “best case scenario”, according to the Telegraph.

The quantities of gas extracted would be very small, but would represent a major step forward for the UK’s fledgling shale gas industry.

Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said: “After the initial flow test period, which is up to 90 days, if the flow rates look good then we would want to tie the well into the gas transmission system and flow it for a longer period to assess the flow rate over 18 to 24 months.”

But Cuadrilla have a number of obstacles to overcome. In addition to planning permission, the company must obtain consent and numerous permits from the Environment Agency. The firm could also face serious local opposition if people do not consent to have drilling activity beneath their homes.

Under the current plans, drilling would begin vertically downwards, before continuing horizontally for two miles east.

Homeowners opposed to drilling beneath their property can currently take a company to court using trespass laws to halt activity. But the government is considering changing the law to give drilling companies unfettered access to drilling sites.

To date only one shale gas drilling site has been operated in the UK, but drilling was halted in 2011 after it caused earthquakes.

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