Drilling rig arrives at Lancashire fracking site for construction next month

Environmental campaigners at the site. Credit: ITV Granada

A drilling rig to explore for shale gas has arrived at a controversial fracking site in Lancashire in an early hours operation.

Developer Cuadrilla said it was "very pleased" to take delivery of the equipment, which is set to be fully constructed next month on land at Preston New Road in Little Plumpton, Fylde.

The site was refused planning permission by Lancashire County Council in 2015, but permission was later granted following an appeal and a planning inquiry.

In April, campaign groups lost a High Court action to overturn the decision.

Cuadrilla said it plans this year to drill two of the four horizontal shale gas explorations wells it has planning permission for.

But environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth said the firm had acted "under cover of darkness" in the face of local opposition while anti-fracking protesters from Reclaim the Power later blocked the entrance to the site on Thursday.

Reclaim the Power said four protesters were locked in their cars at the site entrance with their arms secured in concrete and metal tubes.

One of the protesters stated: "We have taken action today because fracking will contaminate our drinking water, pollute the air we breathe and yet provide hardly any jobs for local people because one third of the workforce will come from the USA and most of the rest will be brought in from other parts of the UK."

The action is part of the group's Rolling Resistance campaign which aims to disrupt work at the Lancashire fracking site every day in July.