Anger as UK’s largest fracking tremor at 2.9ML shakes Lancashire


A 2.9ML tremor centred on Cuadrilla’s shale gas site near Blackpool was felt across Lancashire this morning – the largest so far induced by fracking in the UK.

People as far away as Preston and Chorley reported the tremor at 8.31am this morning.

They described it as “very frightening”. There were reports of loud rumbling and houses and furniture shaking.

Local campaigners against fracking said residents were “sick of being treated as human guinea pigs” and called for an immediate ban.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) first recorded the tremor at 2.6ML but later upgraded it to 2.9ML. The organisation’s website crashed for a while as people tried to find out more details.

The BGS gave the tremor an intensity of 5 on the EMS Intensity scale, from 1-12, where 12 is the strongest. The scale describes a 5 tremor as:

“The earthquake is felt indoors by most, outdoors by few. Many sleeping people awake. A few run outdoors. Buildings tremble throughout. Hanging objects swing considerably. China and glasses clatter together. The vibration is strong. Top heavy objects topple over. Doors and windows swing open or shut.”

Cuadrilla resumed fracking at its Preston New Road site on 15 August 2019. Since then there have been more than 90 tremors.

The company said in a statement this morning:

“Cuadrilla is aware of a seismic event which occurred at about 8.30am this morning in the area of our exploration site in Preston New Road, near Blackpool.

“We can confirm that no hydraulic fracturing was being carried out at the time and no hydraulic fracturing has been carried out over the weekend.

“We are investigating the event alongside the regulators who monitor Preston New Road. Updated information will be posted here as soon as we have it.”

A spokesperson for Preston New Road Action Group, the campaign representing people living near the site, said:

“At 2.9ML, this is the largest fracking induced earthquake to have happened in the UK, it is very frightening when you hear a loud bang and things in the house rattle.

“Given that this quake was felt across Blackpool, the Fylde Coast and beyond, what is likely to have happened beneath the ground to the well at the source?

“We should not be being subjected to this level of stress and fear. So many people have felt it and are trying to log it that it is proving difficult to get onto the British Geological Survey site. Fracking must be stopped immediately.”

A spokesperson for Frack Free Lancashire said:

“This morning, there was an earthquake measuring 2.9ML. This is the largest ever recorded in the area and human-induced from fracking operations.

“It was felt in Wesham, Kirkham, Lytham, Wrea Green, Blackpool and as far away as Chorley. As yet, Cuadrilla have failed to respond to this event but we call upon the government to halt fracking operations immediately.

“Lancashire voted against this at every level of local government but national government over-ruled and have repeatedly given us bland re-assurances about “gold standard regulations”.

“Enough is enough. People are cowering in their homes and just waiting and wondering when the next quake will be and how much damage it will cause.

“We call upon our local MPs to come off the fence and press for an immediate ban on fracking. We are sick of being treated as human guinea pigs.”

190826 bubble chart Refracktion

Relative size of tremors induced by fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool since 15 August 2019. Chart: Refracktion

DrillOrDrop understands that the most recent fracking at Preston New Road was on Friday. Since then, there have been tremors measuring between 0.5ML and 2.1ML.

This morning’s tremor was considerably bigger than the previous strongest linked to fracking. This was also caused by Cuadrilla in Lancashire. This measured 2.3ML and changed the shape of the wellbore.

We have asked the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for a statement. We’ll update this post as new information comes in.

Updated 28 August 2019 to reference the EMS Intensities scale.



21 replies »

    • Are you all crazy what did you expect? For the earthquakes not to happen again because you’ve not drilled for a bit this corruption is unbelievable. Councils have been refused by the government to put up wind farms over quadrilla even the company sounds monstrous. By the way the wind farms would have brought income into the failing councils to sustain them for future years. Government is not a fan of local councils they want District councils

  1. What I suggest is needed now is the opening of public input into the OGA’s investigation into the affair.

    If the OGA is to “gather data” then the only way to do this is to indulge in a public consultation. The evidence to be considered should not be just scientific opinion, but should include local experience, and concern.

      • We should lobby our elected representatives. We should demand that a full investigation is carried out, including public participation and consultation. If all else failes we should take out injunction against Cuadrilla to stop fracking. There is no time like the present to do that. It is pathetic that this has not happened earlier – taking out an injunction, I mean. What’s sauce for the goose….

    • Hi Alan,

      A small group of Locals attempted to launch an Injunction to close Cuadrilla down last year before fracking resumed.

      Sadly there was insufficient financual support pledged or Indeed interest from those living nearest the site for us to proceed despite the evidence that had been gathered!

      Possibly because they had received payments from Cuadrilla out of that pathetuc Community Bribery Fund of theirs.

    • I think now we will see the insurers and building societies act. They are giants compared to the fictitious UK shale gas ‘industry’

      Still, putting things on hold will still keep extortionate directors wages being paid.

      • John. I think you’re right. I’ve thought all along that Building Societies won’t sit by and see their collateral value fall. Imsurance companies certainly don’t want the risk of thousands of claims and no doubt endless arguments with fracking companies who will deny all responsibility. House builders will also be affected as they’ll be unable to sell homes and will be left with land earmarked for building in places where no one wants to buy.

        • Builders around the site gave been desperately building and selling family homes within 5 miles, no make that 2 miles, of the PNR fracking site for some time now.

          They told a family member posing as a prospective purchaser that because the site was that far away there was no problem!


  2. With Brexit diverting the news output we have got to realise that US Trade deals can and could have input on fracking here if we become a “vassal state” – B Johnson’s own concept – of the USA who may have quite a lot to gain here in the UK. This and demonisation of the Labour Party is making this a very worrying situation – obviously locally for PNR and other local site who are in the front line. And nationally where there are still PEDLs in place.

  3. CJR

    While I think you will have nothing to worry about re fracking for a while, can you expand on the links between a trade deal with the US and fracking ( imports of equipment or expertise maybe?)

  4. They said it was like dropping a bag of shopping, what was in the bag… an anvil. Dropping a skip would have had less impact!

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