Councillors in Lancashire are calling on the government to suspend fracking at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool because of earth tremors.
The demand is part of a motion to the county’s full council meeting later this week.
The motion, by Labour’s Cllr John Fillis, also calls for an independent inquiry into the cause of the tremors that resumed yesterday.
The call comes as the British Geological Survey reported today the largest earth tremor linked so far to fracking at the Preston New Road site.
A 1.5ML (local magnitude) tremor was recorded at 11.21am, following nine much smaller seismic events. DrillOrDrop report
Cuadrilla confirmed yesterday it had begun fracking again at the Preston New Road site. It said today it would pause the operation for at least 18 hours following the 1.5ML event.
So far, the BGS has recorded 47 seismic events around the site on a total of 15 days.
The Roseacre Awareness Group, representing people living near Cuadrilla’s proposed fracking site at Roseacre Wood, has urged councillors to support the council motion.
In a letter sent before the 1.5ML earthquake today, the group said:
“Since Cuadrilla commenced fracking yesterday, at the Preston New Road site, there have been a further 8 earthquakes today albeit still at a relatively low magnitude.
“However, repeated fracks tend to increase the risk, frequency and magnitude of further earthquakes.”
The group’s chair, Barbara Richardson, said:
“Lancashire is too densely populated, and has a very complicated and highly faulted geology, to sustain this industry particularly should it commence fracking at full capacity. It is only doing one cautious frack per day at present”
Mrs Richardson said of the latest series of seismic events:
“This situation is unacceptable and exacerbates the residents’ concerns over potential damage below the surface.
“We need to better understand the geology concerned and have truly independent advice on what the implications really are.
“This is why I feel you should support Councillor Fillis’s motion this Thursday to suspend all fracking until such advice is readily available.”
Funding for protest policing
Another motion to the council meeting, by a member of the ruling Conservative group, calls for the costs of anti-fracking protests at Preston New Road to be met by central government.
Lancashire Police has stated that protest policing at the site has cost £9.197m between January 2017, when work at Preston New Road began, and September 2018. According to the latest police data, there have been 429 arrests. Link to data
This policing motion, by Cllr Ed Nash, also includes a call on Lancashire’s chief constable to take measures to minimise disruption.
DrillOrDrop understands that an amendment is to be submitted to the motion to require officers to make safety the most important policing priority at protests.
- Lancashire County Council meets on Thursday 13 December at 1.30pm at County Hall in Preston. The political make-up of the council is: 45 Conservative, 30 Labour, four Liberal Democrats, three independents, one Green and one UKIP. The council’s planning committee voted against fracking at Preston New Road in 2015 but the decision was overturned in 2016 by the then local government secretary, Sajid Javid.
By County Councillor John Fillis
Suspend Fracking in Lancashire
Following the earthquakes being identified around the Fracking site on Preston New Road, we call upon the Chief Executive and Director of Resources to write to the Prime Minister on behalf of Lancashire County Council requesting that:
- Fracking on the Preston New Road site is suspended by order of the government.
- An independent inquiry investigates the earthquakes being recorded within the local area.
- Fracking is suspended in Lancashire until the independent inquiry publishes its findings.
By County Councillor Ed Nash
Lancashire County Council believes in the absolute right of all citizens to peaceful and lawful protest.
However, recent unlawful protest actions carried out at Preston New Road in Fylde that have resulted in obstruction to the highway and significant disruption to traffic and the lawful business of residents give cause for concern.
In particular disquiet has been voiced that Lancashire Police are slow to remove obstructions to ensure the free flow of traffic and to remove those acting unlawfully.
In addition, Council notes that the Police action has so far cost over £3million and that this impacts negatively on the Police budget and thereby frontline policing in Lancashire.
This Council therefore:
- Calls on the Chief Constable of Lancashire to ensure that adequate provision is made and necessary measures taken to minimise disruption.
- Requests that the Chief Executive writes to the Home Secretary to express this concern and requests that police action at this, and other similar protests, are funded by Central Government