Fracking company calls for relaxation in tremor rules

  • Video report by ITV News correspondent Richard Pallot

A UK fracking firm has called for a relaxation of regulations on tremors in order to allow them to fully test and produce gas from its operations.

If fracking results in a tremor above 0.5 magnitude then drilling must be stopped for 18 hours, but Cuadrilla say other industries are permitted a much a greater threshold when it comes to tremors.

Cuadrilla have been carrying out explorations on a site in Lancashire since October which they say has revealed a "rich reservoir of recoverable high quality natural gas present".

The original work on the site started in 2011 but was put on hold for seven years following tremors.

Despite the results achieved within the current regulations, Cuadrilla has joined private energy firm Ineos in criticising the limits imposed.

Cuadrilla said the limits set for the level of seismic activity allowed before there must be a halt during fracking had severely constrained the volume of sand that could be injected into the shale rock as part of the process.

Ineos also want the regulations to be changed. Credit: PA

Chief executive Francis Egan said: "All we ask now is that we are treated fairly, with comparable seismic and ground vibration levels to similar industries in Lancashire and elsewhere in the UK who are able to work safely but more effectively with significantly higher thresholds for seismicity and ground vibration."

The Government has supported fracking in the UK, but environmental campaigners oppose the process which they say can cause pollution and quakes and undermine efforts to tackle climate change.

Cuadrilla and energy giant Ineos, another company planning to frack for shale, have both called for a review of the tremor limits set by the Government but energy minister Claire Perry has indicated there are no plans to alter the rules.

But Daniel Carey-Dawes, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said the call was an act of "desperation".

"The industry is transparent in its attempts to force the government's hand over seismicity regulation, but regulation is there for a reason - to protect the public and our environment.

"The Government must not pander to these threats, but listen to the views and concerns of local communities who have genuine climate concerns, but will ultimately pay the price if we roll over and allow the fracking industry to do as it likes."