A rally outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site this afternoon called for a stop on fracking in Lancashire following the record-breaking bank holiday earth tremor.
The gathering at Preston New Road, near Blackpool, coincided with a statement from the company, which apologised for the 2.9ML tremor and promised to pay for damage caused. Cuadrilla also said fracking would not restart at the site until “the risk of a repeat occurrence has been properly mitigated”.
Between 300 and 400 people reportedly joined the rally in protest at the 124 tremors induced by fracking in 14 days this month.
Businessman Mark Mills, who lives on Preston New Road, said fracking had to stop. He urged people to ask their MPs and councillors:
“If you support fracking or your party does, then you’re complicit in earthquakes, which is against what the people of Lancashire want.
“They need to hear our voice that we do not want to have any further fracking. We do not want earthquakes.”
Mr Mills said Cuadrilla had shown it was unable to frack safely since 2011, when stimulation of the Preese Hall well induced a tremor measuring 2.3ML and changed the shape of the well casing. The first phase of fracking at Preston New Road, in October-December 2018, also caused earth tremors.
Mr Mills said of the 2.9ML earth tremor:
“This time we were lucky. We were lucky in that only buildings were damaged. In the event of a major earthquake people could be put in harm’s way. It cannot continue.”
Within hours of the tremor on 26 August 2019, the industry regulator suspended fracking at Preston New Road. It later said the investigation into the cause of the tremors was “open-ended”.
Mr Mills said residents needed a total ban, not just a suspension:
“We’re going to keep up the pressure. Any way you can help, please do. Anything we can do to get it banned, get rid of the earthquakes and not suffer pollution please help.”
The Blackpool South MP, Labour’s Gordon Marsden, joined the rally. He tweeted afterwards:
“Just been down #PNR with @UKLabour members to give my continued opposition to #fracking. I have written to Tory Govt demanding full independent inquiry into earth tremors and called for a complete ban on #fracking.”
Chris Webb, Labour’s prospective election candidate in Blackpool North, who was also there, tweeted:
“No ifs, no buts, as your MP I will vote to ban fracking.”
“We will repair any damage caused by seismic events”
This afternoon, Cuadrilla issued an update on activity at Preston New Road since the 2.9ML tremor.
The company said the event lasted for 2-3 seconds and was felt by many people. The ground motion was 5-8mm/second, it said, compared with 6-15mm/second typically allowed in the construction industry.
The statement said:
“We are sorry for any concern this has caused. We are in the process of visiting local people who have raised concerns about minor damage to their property and will repair any damage that is assessed to have been caused by the seismic events.”
The company has previously said any micro seismic evens felt by fracking would not be felt or cause damage.
It added that fracking remained suspended at the site and there was no date when it would restart:
“our technical team continues to work with the regulator to address a number of questions raised following the recent seismic events.
“We don’t have a date for operations to restart but it won’t be until both the regulator and ourselves are confident that the technical questions have been satisfactorily answered and the risk of a repeat occurrence has been properly mitigated.
“We continue to monitor the wells each and every day and there is no change to well integrity.”
Cuadrilla repeated its reason that it was fracking for shale gas to establish “a domestic energy supply”
“To reach net zero by 2050 the Committee on Climate Change is clear that the UK will need about 70 per cent of the natural gas that we are using today, in conjunction with carbon capture and storage for electricity and as a feedstock for the manufacture of hydrogen.
“Natural gas is recognised by the experts to be an important part of the solution. We intend to be a part of that solution in providing lower emission UK shale gas to replace higher emission imported gas whilst also generating local jobs and economic benefit.”
- Lawyers wrote on behalf of Lancashire residents to Lancashire County Council yesterday seeking answers to questions about emergency planning over the Preston New Road site. DrillOrDrop report