Earthquake concern

Philip Mitchell, chairman of the Blackpool and Fylde Green Party

Philip Mitchell, chairman of the Blackpool and Fylde Green Party

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A LEADING campaigner against controversial shale gas drilling believes the UK is at risk of more earthquakes if the Government allows the practice to resume.

Philip Mitchell, chairman of the Blackpool and Fylde Green Party, made the claims in his formal response to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) six-week consultation into the future of fracking.

The DECC has said it is minded to allow shale gas drilling to go ahead again if steps are taken to mitigate the risk of earth tremors – but Mr Mitchell believes the scientific report commissioned by the department into the issue does not go far enough.

He said: “In my response, I’ve raised concern there may be ways in which earthquakes are triggered which the report hasn’t considered, and that these could be of greater intensity.

“I’ve also raised concern that the actual effect at the surface can’t be predicted, that human error could cause a failure of the system.”

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The traffic light system will flash red and call for all fracking to be halted if a tremor above magnitude 0.5 is recorded, and is one of several measures proposed by DECC to make the process safer.

Fracking involves shooting water and chemicals deep underground at high pressure to fracture rock and release gas, and DECC is also recommending – at least initially – the volume injected is reduced and monitoring is put in place to record locations and levels of seismic events.

Cuadrilla Resources is the company licensed to frack in the Fylde area, and the firm voluntarily halted the process after work at its Preese Hall site in Weeton, caused up to 50 tremors last year.

And Mr Mitchell believes DECC should also consider the impact of further tremors if Halite’s plans to store gas in underground caverns in Wyre were given the go ahead.

Cuadrilla hopes to get the go-ahead to resume fracking on its Singleton site this summer.

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