Fracking in Lancashire: New calls to suspend fracking after latest earthquake

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There were fresh calls to stop fracking after it was again suspended at Cuadrilla’s site in Little Plumpton, following the most powerful earthquake since work started there just over two weeks ago.

The tremor, 1.1 on the magnitude scale, was followed by three smaller ones, taking the total number noted by the British Geological Survey (BGS) since fracking started on Monday, October 15, to 27.

Cuadrilla's fracking site at Preston New Road

Cuadrilla's fracking site at Preston New Road

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Cuadrilla said it happened while fracking was taking place, but said: “This level is way below anything that can be felt at surface and a very long way from anything that would cause damage or harm.”

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The government says {https://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/environment/fracking-in-lancashire-when-does-seismic-activity-mean-fracking-has-to-stop-1-9411322|fracking must pause whenever ‘quakes over 0.5’ happen. Yesterday was the second time Cuadrilla was forced to stop. It also stopped for the day voluntarily after an amber ‘quake – between 0.0 and 0.5 – last week.

The county council’s Labour group called on the government to suspend fracking, claiming “self-regulation does not appear to be reducing the size or frequency of these earthquakes”. It also wants council boss Angie Ridgwell to write to Prime Minister Theresa May to call for an independent enquiry.

And Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden (inset) said: “As the tremors increase, so does the distress and worry to local people. Government ministers need to get their heads out of the sand and urgently halt the fracking process. We need to find out what is going on below the surface at Preston New Road.”

Cuadrilla has drilled two exploratory horizontal wells into deep lying Bowland Shale rock, and is pumping water, sand, and chemicals down to fracture rock and release natural gas, which will then flow back to the surface to be recovered for the national grid.

Little Plumpton is Cuadrilla’s first fracking site since two earthquakes in 2011, measuring 2.3 and 1.5, halted work at its Preese Hall site near Blackpool.