A game of two pitches

You may have read about our concerns about the misleading statements being churned out by Cuadrilla of late and our frustrated attempts to extract meaningful answers from Lexington Communications who front up Cuadrilla’s “Community Information Line”.

Well, it seems that they were finally able to provide an answer of sorts to  the question -“What is the planned surface area of the site at Preston New Road?”

Here it is

Preston New Road site area

The Exploration Site and access, extends to approximately 2.65 hectares (ha) and are located within a parcel of agricultural land of around 7.2 ha, of which 1.55ha is a compacted crushed stone surfaced well pad from which the drilling, hydraulic fracturing and flow testing activities will be undertaken. The remainder of the application site will consist of surface water collection ditches, landscaped bunds (from topsoil and subsoil excavated during construction of the well pad) and fencing and the land required for the extended flow test pipeline and connection. It is the 1.55 ha well pad which we say is approximately the size of a rugby pitch to help people visualise the size.

The first part of this statement confirms exactly what we already knew from the Environmental Statement submitted by Cuadrilla via the consultants, ARUP, to the planning inquiry earlier this year.

The final sentence, however, seems to be an admission that Cuadrilla have set out to deliberately deceive people as to the visual and spatial impact of their site.

Let’s recap.

A standard rugby pitch’s maximum dimensions are as follows:

“A typical length is 100m for the field of play plus the depth of the ingoal areas at both ends of the field, say 10m each – total 120m. The width is typically 70m so the area = 120m x 70m = 8400 sq m. A full size pitch (22m ingoal) would be 144m x 70m = 10080 sq m. ”

So we know that a rugby pitch covers an area of 1.008 hectares.

We also know that Cuadrilla have repeatedly made the claim (In the Guardian and Blackpool Gazette in the last few day alone) that their well pad is just the size of a rugby pitch. Here’s an example.

So let’s look at the reality shall we. This is the plan of Cuadrilla’s pad as submitted by ARUP . (The red shading is mine)


Doing our best with a print out, the scale marker and a ruler we make the area described as a “stoned well pad” to be about 141 metres x 111 metres giving an area of about 1.56 hectares (so our measurements seem to be OK as it matches what Cuadrilla claim closely enough). That is of course half as much again as the maximum size of a rugby pitch, which is why we maintain that Cuadrilla are setting out to deliberately deceive people as to the visual and spatial impact of their site. They do know how big a rugby pitch is because I was at pains to tell them when I spoke to them last week.

But wait! If you are genuinely trying to help people to “visualise the size” of your development you’d be using what they’d actually see – that isn’t just the stoned pad – it’s the area surrounded by the 3 layers of fencing which you would describe if you were really being honest. This covers an area of approximately 2.3 hectares (190 meters x 119 metres). As you can see from the red shaded area on the plan which covers an area equivalent to 1 rugby pitch, you could easily fit two rugby pitches in to the area and still have space to spare.

Does anyone else agree with us that Cuadrilla are being deceptive here? Well, yes it would seem they do! UKOOG – the UK Onshore Operator’s Group wrote just this week of

For reference a standard professional football pitch is 120 x 90 which is 1.08 hectares (so a smidgeon larger than a rugby pitch)

So what can we say here? The inescapable conclusion here is that Cuadrilla’s PR agents are misleading the local people who enquire on the “Cuadrilla Information Line”. We know they read this blog – if they feel I haven’t been fair they know how to contact me – I will happily add any explanation or correct any information on this page which they can demonstrate is factually incorrect.

On the other hand if they feel the need to correct the erroneous information that they have provided by email to a large number of enquirers they can feel free to use the information provided here.

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