Utilities bosses have refuted social media claims that fracking has secretly started in Hyndburn after hi-tech ground monitoring equipment was sighted on open land.
A team of geotechnical engineers were carrying out ground investigations along the aqueduct route at Peel Park and the Coppice, between Accrington and Huncoat, when their equipment was spotted.
United Utilities said a ‘local conspiracy theorist’ was convinced they were secretly planning to start fracking and another social media commentator thought a landowner was illegally installing electric fences.
One post on Twitter said: “We have frackers on the Coppice folks. Just been up there to find a shed load of these little blighters strewn across the back end fence at the motorway.
“Either they are looking to frack on the Coppice, testing to find weak spots in the rock or they have started to frack again somewhere else and are measuring the effects.”
However, the water company say the ‘truth is much less controversial’ and that engineers are instead helping to prepare for a multi-million pound overhaul of the Haweswater Aqueduct, the north west’s biggest water pipe, over the next 10 years.
Chris Tighe, project co-ordinator for United Utilities, said: “We’re using seismic monitoring equipment at the surface and we’re also drilling down to build up a picture of the ground conditions around the pipeline.
“Some of the kit is carried in large vehicles and it’s understandable that people want to know what is happening.
“We have written to residents in the local area, we’ve put up lots of signage and given presentations at council meetings to explain what we are doing, but one or two people seem to have their own version of events.
“The truth is much less controversial.”
The geotechnical and environmental surveys are being carried out along the route of the vintage pipeline which brings water supplies from the Lake District into Lancashire and Manchester.
The data will help United Utilities firm up its design for the work to come.
United Utilities’ director of strategic programmes, Neil Gillespie, said: “The Haweswater Aqueduct is one of the arteries of the north west’s water supply system and a project of this scale, which could take around 10 years to deliver, takes a lot of planning.
“We are proposing to replace several sections of the original pipeline which was completed in the 1950s. It’s a massive undertaking.
“Although we have an initial design and route we now need accurate information about the ground conditions.
“So that’s why our survey teams will be out and about this year, building up the evidence to help us firm up our plans.”
Public exhibitions will be held from March onwards with more information about the project.
The main construction project is scheduled to begin in 2023, with completion by around 2030.
This content was originally published here.