Cuadrilla has started drilling at a fracking site in Lancashire.
The pilot well will be drilled 3,500 metres deep and samples will be taken at various levels within the shale rock to decide where best to drill the horizontal wells.
The first two horizontal wells will be drilled at depths of between 2,000 metres and 3,500 metres.
The announcement comes as scientists at Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University suggest the UK’s geology isn’t suitable for effective fracking.
There have also been protests at the Preston New Road site in Little Plumpton as work began to prepare for the drilling earlier this year.
Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla said: “Today is an important milestone for the energy industry in the UK as well as the community in Lancashire.”
Helen Rimmer from Friends of the Earth however said the drilling means “local people will be subject to 24-hour noise, seven days a week, from a fracking project they don’t even want”.
The fracking firm has made a payment of £100,000 to an independent Community Benefit Fund, which will distribute the money to community projects, in line with the UK Onshore Oil and Gas Community Engagement Charter.
It will also consult with local residents on whether they wish the funds for the other three wells Cuadrilla has planning consent to drill and frack to be paid into the independent Fund, managed by the Community Foundation for Lancashire, or directly to individual local households via a separate scheme.
The funds for the three wells would total £300,000.