Fresh safety alert in fracking fight

The Cuadrilla Resourses site at Grange Hill, Singleton

The Cuadrilla Resourses site at Grange Hill, Singleton

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LEADING climate change campaigners have claimed a new report serves as a “stark warning” about the UK’s ability to carry out controversial gas fracking safely.

The report issued by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering called for more regulation of the industry - but stressed although it is not “risk free” it is unlikely to cause earthquakes and water contamination.

And Friends of the Earth has said that element of risk proves the UK is not ready for shale gas drilling.

Cuadrilla Resources hopes to get the green-light to continue exploratory fracking, possibly at its Singleton site, this summer, and Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Tony Bosworth said: “Studies show shale gas could be as bad for the planet as coal.

“This review is a stark warning that the UK isn’t ready to extract shale gas – experts say we need much tougher regulations to reduce the risk of earthquakes and pollution of our water supplies.

“The Government’s obsession with shale gas is completely misguided. Overwhelmingly the public want more of their electricity powered by our sun, wind and waves.”

The environment charity wants the potential climate change impacts fully assessed before fracking gets the go-ahead from government.

Fracking is currently suspended because of a series of earthquakes which struck the Fylde Coast during drilling in Weeton last year, and the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering’s report stresses the need for “more extensive inspections and testing to ensure the integrity of every well.”

But campaign group Frack Off criticised the report for not examining the damage caused to wells by earthquakes, and Joe Reid, from Frack off, added: “If earthquakes can damage the integrity of the wellbore, how are we to know gas and fracking fluids won’t migrate to the surface and to water aquifers?”

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has published a report recommending fracking go-ahead with conditions, but this is currently out to consultation and no final decision has been made.