Boris Johnson pledges to address 'anxieties' over fracking

Cuadrilla's site at Preston New Road, near Blackpool
Cuadrilla's site at Preston New Road, near Blackpool
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised he will address the "very considerable anxieties" about fracking.

With the Oil and Gas Authority expected to report this week on the links between fracking and earthquakes, the Government is reportedly considering using what are expected to be critical findings to call a pause to shale gas extraction in the UK.

Gas exploration company Cuadrilla has paused its operations at Preston New Road, near Blackpool, since a series of earth tremors this summer.

It says it plans to resume at an unspecified date.

But opposition from protesters and public concern over environmental impacts continue to haunt the industry,

Mr Johnson said: "We will shortly be making an announcement about fracking in view of the very considerable anxieties that are legitimately being raised about the earthquakes that have followed various fracking attempts."

He hinted that a ban could be imminent: "We will certainly be following up on those findings because they are very important and will be of concern."

John Hobson from Frack Free Lancashire said fracking was an "electoral liability" and the Government would want to be seen to be doing something about it.

He said: “We would expect Mr Johnson to announce a moratorium of new fracking, but to leave the door open for further flaring of gas at PNR and exploratory fracking elsewhere so that, if he gains a majority, he can row back to his original position.

“Frack Free Lancashire though, believes that only an outright ban is appropriate to protect the local community and will actively campaign until one is implemented.

"All of the other major parties are now committed to such a ban, so were Mr Johnson to fall short here, he is exposing his own candidates to considerable risk."

Friends of the Earth fracking campaigner Jamie Peters said: “It would be entirely appropriate for Boris Johnson to choose Halloween to hammer home the final nail in the fracking coffin.

“Fracking blights local communities, causes earthquakes and leads to more climate-wrecking emissions being pumped into our atmosphere - it’s little wonder it’s so unpopular.

“The best way for the Prime Minister to end the fracking nightmare endured by local communities is to call a complete ban."

Opposition to fracking has almost doubled, with government research showing that 40 per cent of people are against it, up from 21 per cent in 2013.

Support for fracking has fallen from 27 per cent to 12 per cent .

Labour has promised to ban fracking "immediately" if it wins the general election.

It is also Liberal Democrat policy to ban the process.

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a process in which liquid is pumped deep underground at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release gas or oil trapped within it.

In August, fracking by Cuadrilla led to an earth tremor in Lancashire measuring 2.9 on the Richter scale, which reportedly rattled doors and windows.

The gas exploration company has now offered to make payments to homes affected.

Cuadrilla Chief executive Francis Egan said damage reports number in the "low two figures" and that there is no clear evidence the earthquake caused them.

Residents will be paid a few hundred pounds to help cover the price of redecorating rooms where plaster work has cracked, he said.

This week it was also revealed that the pro-fracking organisation Lancashire For Shale was being wound down and its data base being shared with the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, a founder member of the group.

Cuadrilla has not yet commented on Mr Johnson's statement.