FRACKING has been given the green light to resume on the Fylde coast, the Department for Energy and Climate Change has announced.
Edward Davey, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, announced this morning that exploratory hydraulic fracturing - known as fracking - for shale gas can resume in the UK, subject to new controls to mitigate the risks of seismic activity.
Mr Davey said: “Shale gas represents a promising new potential energy resource for the UK. It could contribute significantly to our energy security, reducing our reliance on imported gas, as we move to a low carbon economy.
“My decision is based on the evidence. It comes after detailed study of the latest scientific research available and advice from leading experts in the field.
“We are still in the very early stages of shale gas exploration in the UK and it is likely to develop slowly. It is essential that its development should not come at the expense of local communities or the environment. Fracking must be safe and the public must be confident that it is safe.
“We are strengthening the stringent regime already in place with new controls around seismic risks. And as the industry develops we will remain vigilant to all emerging evidence to ensure fracking is safe and the local environment is protected.
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“The new Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil, led by DECC, will be able to focus regulatory effort where necessary to meet the needs of future production.
“Emissions of methane – which is a potent greenhouse gas - are already subject to control, but I am today commissioning a study of the possible impacts of shale gas development on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.”
The announcement would give Cuadrilla Resources the nod to continue fracking at sites on the Fylde coast.
Cuadrilla has four exploration drilling sites in Lancashire - three on the Fylde at Westby, Singleton and Weeton, and one at Banks in west Lancashire.
The firm has said it could supply a quarter of the UK’s gas needs from the untapped resources in Lancashire.
Exploratory fracking has been suspended since May 2011 after two small seismic tremors were detected near the fracking operations in Lancashire.
Following a detailed study and further analysis by an independent panel of experts commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, with feedback from a wide public consultation, and the benefit of the report by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering, the Government has concluded that the seismic risks associated with fracking can be managed effectively with controls.
New controls to mitigate seismic risks announced today include a prior review before fracking begins to assess seismic risk and the existence of faults. A fracking plan must be submitted to DECC showing how seismic risks will be addressed and seismic monitoring must be carried out before, during and after fracking.
The Government has also said a new traffic light system to categorise seismic activity and direct appropriate responses will be used as well as a trigger mechanism which will stop fracking operations in certain conditions.
These controls, along with the rest of recommendations in the independent report into seismic activity and fracking commissioned by the Government and published in March this year, have been accepted by the Secretary of State.