Largest ever tremor recorded at UK’s only fracking site in Blackpool

Energy firm Cuadrilla reports third seismic event at Lancashire facility within the space of a week

Tom Barnes@thomas_barnes
Sunday 25 August 2019 02:06
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Energy firm Cuadrilla's hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - operation near Blackpool
Energy firm Cuadrilla's hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - operation near Blackpool

The UK’s only fracking site has been hit by the largest-ever tremor caused by the practice on British soil.

Energy firm Cuadrilla said a 2.23-magnitude tremor was recorded at its facility near Blackpool at 11.01pm on Saturday – the third “micro seismic event” this week.

The movement was stronger than the 1.55-magnitude tremor observed at the site on Wednesday – which previously held the record.

The company said Saturday’s tremor lasted for about one second and occurred when no fracking was taking place.

While some local residents may have felt the movement, it was not strong enough to have caused any damage to property, the firm added.

“We can confirm that a micro seismic event measuring 2.23ML (local magnitude) on the Richter scale occurred at Preston New Road,” a spokeswoman said.

“This lasted for around one second and resulted in ground motion less than 1.5 mm/s. Hydraulic fracturing was not taking place at the time.”

According to the British Geological Survey, the tremor had a depth of 2km (1.2 miles) and was felt by residents in areas including Great Plumpton, Blackpool and Lytham St Annes.

Regulators were informed and the “integrity” of the well has been confirmed, Cuadrilla said.

Fracking was temporarily stopped at the site after Wednesday’s tremor, which the company said would have felt similar to someone dropping a large bag of shopping on the floor.

Pausing work for 18 hours is the routine response for any tremor over 0.5.

Labour’s shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey has called for fracking to be banned, saying it causes air and water pollution and contributes to climate change.

Environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth said in 60 days of fracking last year there were 57 tremors in Lancashire and that it cannot be carried out without triggering earthquakes.

“Even small vibrations at ground level can be the sign of far more damaging impacts deep underground,” said Jamie Peters, a campaigner for the organisation.

The government has said the extraction of shale gas through fracking could support the UK’s transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Additional reporting by PA

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