Controversial fracking 'should resume' after earthquake

A controversial gas drilling technique which was stopped after triggering earthquakes near Blackpool could be re-started.

The company involved, Cuadrilla, says it has accepted stringent recommendations from experts who say hydraulic fracturing should be allowed to continue at the Preese Hall well in Lancashire.

Cuadrilla's fracking site near Blackpool
Cuadrilla's fracking site near Blackpool Credit: ITV News

The report commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change sets out some key changes to the way the site should operate.

  • A tremor even too small to be noticed above ground should result in an immediate shutdown
  • Remedial action would have to be carried out before work could be resumed again
  • A report calls for monitoring of the site using seismic sensors
  • Steps to ensure excess pressure cannot build up beneath ground

The word 'fracking' comes from hydraulic fracturing. It involves injecting high pressure water and chemicals into shale rock to release natural gas. Watch an explanation of the process, provided by Cuadrilla here.

On April 1 and May 27 last year, two small earthquakes were felt in the Blackpool area. No damage was caused.
On April 1 and May 27 last year, two small earthquakes were felt in the Blackpool area. No damage was caused. Credit: ITV News

Environmental groups, such as Friends of the Earth, remain opposed to the process abd say that earth tremors aren't the only risks associated with it.

They claim it has also been linked to air and water pollution and produces gas that causes climate change.

The Government wants feedback from the public before making a final decision about the site.

We are grateful to the authors of the report and have launched a call for evidence to give people a chance to express their views on the report. Responses to the call for evidence will be carefully considered before ministers make a final decision.

– DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE

The consultation period will last six weeks before any final decision is taken on shale gas fracking.

We are pleased that the experts have come to a clear conclusion that it is safe to allow us to resume hydraulic fracturing, following the procedures outlined in the review. Many of today's recommendations were contained in the original expert studies we published in November last year, and our supplementary information sent to DECC in January. We have already started to implement a number of them in the pursuit of best practice.

– MARK MILLER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF CUADRILLA