Blackpool’s Conservative MP has called into question the future of fracking ahead of a mass protest due to take place today at the drill site linked to recent earth tremors.
Blackpool North and Cleveleys’ Paul Maynard said there should be no relaxation of strict regulations covering seismic activity, calling on Cuadrilla to operate within established guidelines (0.5ML) or not at all following a quake measuring 2.9ML.
Mr Maynard said: “I share constituents’ concerns about the scale of the tremors which have been attributed to Cuadrilla’s operations at Preston New Road and welcome the decision by the Oil and Gas Authority to suspend fracking at the site. It is my view that fracking should remain suspended until Cuadrilla is able to operate within the established regulations.
“This is no longer a case of tremors being equivalent to a lorry passing by, it is a great deal more serious.
“When it was granted a licence to carry out fracking, Cuadrilla agreed to work within strict seismic guidelines. It is becoming increasingly clear that the operation at Preston New Road cannot continue within this framework.
“If it is not economically viable to do so, that is a matter for the company and its backers.” He has also written to the British Geological Survey and Oil and Gas Authority over reports that shale gas reserves may be much smaller than first thought.
He said: “If reserves are five to seven years and not 50, it calls into question the viability and necessity for schemes such as the exploration at Preston New Road.”
The public protest at the Preston New Road drill site at 2pm has been backed by Fylde businessman Mark Mills.
He said: “If the government isn't listening, we will need to keep up the pressure to ban fracking once and for all.
“Following the impromptu peaceful and successful protest by 450 residents on Monday, August 26, incensed by the earthquakes, we will gather peacefully together again on Saturday, August 31 at 2pm in greater numbers.
“We are urging the government to ban fracking with immediate effect.
“Cross-party pressure on the government must be applied for a unilateral ban. We will not be fobbed off any longer.”