Cuadrilla Resources Ltd. plans to submit an application to drill and perform hydraulic fracturing (fracking) at up to four test wells in northwest England’s Lancashire County, in the Borough of Fylde, and hopes to have a decision within 16 weeks of its application being accepted, the company said Monday.

Cuadrilla — based in Lichfield, Staffordshire County — also said it plans to submit plans to the Lancashire County Council to install a network of seismic monitoring stations within a four-kilometer (2.49-mile) radius of the proposed exploration site, Preston New Road, located in the parish of Westby-with-Plumptons.

Cuadrilla added that Arup Group Ltd., an engineering firm, will submit an environmental impact assessment with its application.

“This application could be a really important milestone for Lancashire and the UK as we seek to unlock Lancashire’s shale gas potential,” said Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan. “The development of the shale gas industry has the potential to bring significant investment, community benefits and opportunities for local people and the North West and UK economies.

“We have undertaken extensive consultation and engagement with the local communities on these applications and have listened carefully to what people have told us. Where it has been reasonably practical to do so, we have amended our plans to incorporate feedback and suggestions.”

The wells will target the UK’s Bowland-Hodder Shale. Last summer, the British Geological Survey said there was a 50% chance the formation holds 1,329 Tcf of natural gas. It also released high and low estimates for the play, at 2,281 Tcf and 822 Tcf, respectively (see Shale Daily, June 28, 2013).

Cuadrilla said it plans to submit a separate application to the Lancashire County Council to drill at a second proposed exploration site, Roseacre Wood, within a few weeks. Last February, the company said it plans to drill four test wells at the Roseacre Wood site, which is also in the Borough of Fylde (see Shale Daily, Feb. 7).

The company said it has maintained regular correspondence, through newsletters and written updates, with more than 9,000 households over its plans to drill at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood. It has also established two liaison groups to keep in touch with the community.

According to Cuadrilla’s website, the company has three other drilling sites — for a total of eight, including the two new sites — in Lancashire. Cuadrilla also holds a license to explore for shale gas in West Sussex County, located in southern England.

The British government enacted a moratorium on fracking after tremors at Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall site, near the village of Weeton, but lifted it in December 2012 after the introduction of new risk controls (see Shale Daily, Dec. 17, 2012).