Severe storms did not deter residents as they set out to learn what fracking giants Cuadrilla have in store for their village.
Householders, business owners, farmers and environmentalists from Elswick and surrounding villages battled fierce gales and heavy showers for a showdown with the experts over the possible impacts to the local area.
Up to 120 people put their concerns over waste water, loss of wildlife habitat, road safety fears and future employment to representatives during Cuadrilla’s public information session.
Third generation farmer Alice Richardson said: “I farm livestock naturally, without any fertilisers or chemicals.
“They can’t tell you where dirty water is going to be cleaned or where it will be discharged - my land is surrounded by dykes - nothing is foolproof, what will the land be like in 15 years time?”
Roland and Marie Taylor, who have lived in Roseacre for 10 years, said: “It is a beautiful friendly village, they say it will have community benefit but we don’t have any details of what that will mean.
“And we are also worried about the traffic - at the minute we have one tanker coming through the village a day, how will these lorries get through? The roads aren’t built for that and there are no footpaths.”
But Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan, who attended the consultation meeting at Elswick Village Hall, said the potential to extract gas and provide a minimum of seven years energy supply could not be ignored along with huge opportunities for the local economy.
He added the consultations were important in building relationships with the community and in helping dispel the inaccuracies about the exploration process. He said: “There is an element of tackling the misinformation but we’re confident in reassuring people our plans are secure and safe and highlighting the opportunities that go with it as well.”
“By sharing our plans for the exploratory programme, we hope that people will have an understanding of what we plan to do and why.
“We’re committed to working with the community and are keen to take on board the views of local people.”
The meeting at the village hall was aimed at residents in the area where the company plans to drill four exploration wells at Roseacre Wood to assess the quantity and composition of the natural gas locked within the rock.
Experts want to extract rock samples from deep below the surface for analysis. A planning application for the well is expected to be submitted by May. The two proposed sites, the other at Little Plumpton, are 7km apart.
The company is currently carrying out lengthy environmental risk assessments for shale gas exploration
Cuadrilla have appointment of planning consultants Arup to carry out environmental impact assessments for the sites it intends to drill.