“Frack Free Lancashire is concerned by the increasing frequency and intensity of seismic events accompanying fracking operations at Preston New Road and is now calling for an immediate moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the Fylde.
“Eminent geologists have warned that events of the magnitude experienced over the last two weeks could be the precursor to a more major seismic event like those that occurred at Preese Hall in 2011. These caused damage to the wellbore and led to a seven-year interruption for the UK fracking industry.
“The democratic decisions that have been taken by our representatives on fracking, and even the overturning of these decisions by the government were all conducted based on a set of assumptions which presupposed the existence of a tight regulatory framework. This framework included this traffic light system with today’s limits.
“These regulations were put into place explicitly to protect the community and not to make the fracking companies’ job easier and more profitable. The suggestions from Cuadrilla and others in the industry that the regulatory goalposts should be moved simply because they are unable to manage their operations to stay within them is totally unacceptable. If the industry is unviable outside of this existing regulatory framework then they should pack up and leave.
“Our government’s behind the scenes dealings with the industry which seem aimed at weakening the protections suggested by the review into Preese Hall are a further sign that our “gold standard” shale gas regulation is a tawdry imitation of what we have a right to expect. We learned from a leaked letter published in the Guardian that Energy Minister Claire Perry MP, had suggested that “the trigger levels [of the traffic light system] can be adjusted upwards”, which would effectively give carte blanche to the fracking industry to provoke larger, stronger earthquakes, putting communities and even their own fracking equipment in danger.
“We note that Ms Perry was also reported to have had private round-table meetings with the fracking industry, which were not recorded on transparency registers. Today, The Times reports that Cuadrilla are calling for the seismicity trigger levels to be increased, with Francis Egan stating: “We appreciate the requirement for a conservative approach and will follow the traffic light system. That said, we consider that a red light limit of circa 2.0ML [local magnitude] would provide more than adequate assurance that no harm or damage could arise from fracking.”
“A quake of 2.0 Ml is 32 times larger than one at the existing limit of 0.5Ml and 178 times larger in terms of energy release. Such a change would be completely unacceptable to communities and should be rejected out of hand by our regulators, who should also be aware of the advice given by geology expert, Professor Stuart Haszeldine, who stated:
“The practical significance is not whether these tremors are felt at the surface or not, but in the potential to damage the borehole, and the potential to create gas pathways from the shale towards larger faults, towards shallower aquifers, and to the surface.”
“Residents experienced previous property damage from Cuadrilla’s operations in 2011, where an earthquake effectively shut down this industry due to damage to the wellbore which was reported to have led to a loss of integrity.
“With history seeming poised to repeat itself, a moratorium on fracking in the area is the only sensible course of action.”
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
- For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.frackfreelancashire.org
For further information contact Claire Stephenson email@example.com