Gas exploration company Cuadrilla has unveiled plans to carry out fracking at two new Lancashire sites.
The firm has earmarked new exploration sites in Roseacre and Little Plumpton on the Fylde.
Cuadrilla has already informed residents of the proposals and has set plans in motion to apply to Lancashire County Council for permission to drill up to four wells on each of the two sites. It could be a year before fracking actually begins.
The first site, at Roseacre Wood, is located to the south of the village of Roseacre and the second is located north of Preston New Road (the A583), to the west of Little Plumpton.
Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said: “This is a significant step. Lancashire is sitting on very large natural gas resources and we need to see how much of this gas will flow out of the ground.”
An environmental impact report will be prepared before planning permission is applied for.
If approved, it could be later this year before construction work starts and 2015 before any hydraulic fracturing takes place.
The company has set aside £100,000 per well for the benefit of the local community, for each well that is hydraulically fractured.
The company has decided not to apply for permission to carry out hydraulic fracturing at its Grange Hill site at this time.
Friends of the Earth’s north west campaigner, Helen Rimmer said: “These plans will be met by stiff opposition from local people rightly concerned about having the UK’s first attempted multiple-well fracking operation under their feet.
“Fracking isn’t the answer to our energy problems. Experts say it will do little to tackle climate change - and even Cuadrilla has said it won’t cut energy bills.
“Lancashire can be at the heart of the UK’s energy future, but it must be based on energy efficiency and renewable power, not more dirty fossil fuels.”
The public are invited to find out more about the proposals at two events. The Roseacre Wood Information Day will be held at Elswick Village Hall on February 12, from 3pm to 8pm.; and the Preston New Road Information Day: at Pipers Height Caravan Park on February 13 from 3pm to 8pm.
Addressing opponents of the controversial practice of fracking, Mr Egan added: “We want to engage with people and we want to reassure people that it’s safe. There will be some people who don’t want to see this happen but the applications will go through the due process.”
Lee Petts, managing director at waste and environmental management specialists Remsol, said: “A developing shale gas industry could provide a host of employment and supply chain opportunities for local people and businesses.
“It’s also important that the shale gas industry be given sufficient opportunity to demonstrate that they can be good neighbours, and that they can extract Lancashire’s shale gas safely and responsibly.”