Tremors, protests, challenges – eight years of UK fracking

PNR 181026 Ros Wills

Fence artwork outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, 26 October 2018. Photo: Ros Wills

As the government announces a second moratorium on fracking because of earth tremor risks, DrillOrDrop looks back at key events in the past eight years. Please let us know about any important headlines we have missed.

1 April 2011

2.3ML earth tremor caused by Cuadrilla fracking at Preese Hall, near Blackpool in Lancashire

Cuadrilla fracking site

Preese Hall. Picture by Cuadrilla Resources

27 May 2011

1.5ML earth tremor caused by Cuadrilla fracking at Preese Hall, near Blackpool in Lancashire

2 November 2011

Report for Cuadrilla attributes tremors at Preese Hall to injection of fluid into a nearby fault zone. It also reports that the production casing of the casing was deformed, though well integrity was not affected. The government introduces a moratorium on fracking.

29 June 2012

Report by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering concludes that risk of fracking can be managed effectively in the UK by strong regulation

5 December 2012

Autumn statement announces tax incentives or shale gas and a new Office for Unconventional Gas and Oil to speed up development. Known to fracking opponents as Off-U-Go, it is later disbanded.

9 December 2012

Boris Johnson in the Telegraph describes fracking as “an answer to the nation’s prayers”

13 December 2012

Energy minister, Ed Davey, ends the one-year moratorium on fracking. The government introduces the Traffic light system (TLS), which requires shale gas operators to pause fracking for 18 hours if a tremor measures 0.5ML or more.


Part of DECC infographic on Traffic Light system (2014). Source: OGA

25 July 2013

Anti-fracking campaigners begin six weeks of protests outside Cuadrilla’s oil site at Balcombe in West Sussex

27 September 2013

Cuadrilla clears the Balcombe site after drilling but not testing the well

27 November 2013

Barton Moss community protection camp established in protest at IGas plans to drill a gas well at Irlam in Salford

10 January 2014

IGas spuds the Irlam-1 well

13 January 2014

Prime minster David Cameron says his government is “going all out for shale

4 February 2014

Lancashire County Council publishes Cuadrilla’s plans to drill and frack up to four wells at Preston New Road near Blackpool

18 May 2014

Lancashire County Council publishes Cuadrilla’s plans to drill and frack up to four wells at Roseacre Wood near Blackpool

23 June 2014

IGas starts drilling at a coal bed methane well at Ellesmere Port. It is later revealed that the well was drilled into shale layers.

26 June 2014

Report by Public Health England concludes that health risks of fracking will be low if operations are properly run and regulated

22 July 2014

West Sussex County Council refuses Celtique Energie’s plans to drill near the villages of Kirdford and Wisborough Green

11 September 2015

South Downs National Park rejects plans by Celtique Energie to drill for oil near Fernhurst. Opponents feared the scheme could lead to fracking in the South Downs.

12 February 2015

Infrastructure Act

The Infrastructure Act is granted royal assent, allowing companies to drill and frack under land without getting the owner’s consent. It also changes the definition of fracking to the injection of 1,000m3 of liquid per stage or 10,000m3 per well. Opponents of the legislation say operators could to avoid restrictions on fracking in the act by reducing the volume of liquid to below the maximum threshold.

25 June 2015

Lancashire County Council refuses permission to Cuadrilla to drill and frack at Roseacre Wood

29 June 2015

Lancashire County Council refuses permission to Cuadrilla to drill and frack at Preston New Road, despite the recommendation to approve by planning officers


Cuadrilla’s opponents outside Lancashire County Council when fracking applications were refused, June 2015. Photo: DrillOrDrop

31 July 2015

IGas abandons its appeal against non-determination of its plans to drill for coal bed methane at Dudleston in Shropshire

18 August 2015

The industry regulator, the Oil & Gas Authority, releases details of what became 93 new onshore exploration licences, many of them for shale gas

16 September 2015

Written ministerial statement declares shale gas to be nationally important and changes the criteria for ministers to recover (decide) planning appeals

28 September 2015

Northern Ireland announces a presumption against unconventional hydrocarbon extraction

26 November 2015

Local government secretary, Greg Clark, announces he will decide Cuadrilla’s appeal against refusal of permission to drill and frack at Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood, near Blackpool.

12 January 2016

Opponents of IGas plans to drill for coal bed methane at Upton, near Chester, are evicted from a protection camp.

5 February 2016

IGas announces it is pulling out of plans to drill for coal bed methane at Upton near Chester.

9 February 2016

160209 Blackpool enquiry umbrellas

Opening day of public inquiry into Cuadrilla’s fracking plans, 9 February 2016. Photo: DrillOrDrop

Start of six-week public inquiry into Cuadrilla’s plans to drill and frack up to four wells at both Preston New Road and Roseacre Wood

23 May 2016

Fracking plans by Third Energy at Kirby Misperton approved by North Yorkshire County Council

6 October 2016

Local government minister, Sajid Javid, grants planning permission (despite local opposition) to Cuadrilla to drill and frack up to four wells at Preston New Road. He reopens the inquiry into Cuadrilla’s plans for Roseacre Wood.

15 November 2016

Nottinghamshire County Council approves IGas shale gas drilling plans at Springs Road, Misson

5 January 2017

Cuadrilla begins work on surface construction at Preston New Road


Protest outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site as construction work gets underway, 6 January 2017. Photo: Frack Off

6 January 2017

Daily protests begin outside Preston New Road and have since exceeded 1,000 days

6 March 2017

High Court injunction granted to Cuadrilla against protests at Preston New Road

21 March 2017

Nottinghamshire County Council approves IGas shale gas drilling plans (but not fracking) at Tinker Lane

12 April 2017

High Court dismisses statutory challenge to Preston New Road planning permission

8 May 2017

Ineos applies for planning permission to explore for shale gas at Marsh Lane in Derbyshire

30 May 2017

Ineos applies for planning permission to explore for shale gas at Harthill in south Yorkshire

27 July 2017

Arrival of drilling rig at Preston New Road site

31 July 2017

Ineos granted High Court injunction against anti fracking protests outside its proposed sites

170926 INEOS injunction Woodsetts Against Fracking

Ineos staff installing injunction notice at the proposed Woodsetts shale gas site in south Yorkshire. Photo: Woodsetts Against Fracking

3 August 2017

Ineos says it is applying for permission to explore for shale gas at Woodsetts in south Yorkshire

17 August 2017

Preston New Road first well spudded (start of drilling)

29 November 2017

Decision on Third Energy’s fracking plans at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire delayed by legal loophole

25 January 2018

Chester West and Cheshire Council votes against well testing at IGas’s Ellesmere Port well

Rotherham councillors unanimously oppose Ineos shale gas drilling plans at Harthill

Government again delays decision on fracking at Kirby Misperton until Third Energy files its accounts and completes a financial resilience assessment

180220 KM Eddie Thornton

Third Energy’s fracking site at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire, 20 February 2018. Photo: Eddie Thornton

6 February 2018

Third Energy releases fracking equipment from Kirby Misperton

7 March 2018

Third Energy says fracking at Kirby Misperton could be delayed until autumn 2018. The site has not been fracked

8 March 2018

Rotherham councillors unanimously oppose Ineos shale gas drilling plans at Woodsetts. The council  opposed a near-identical scheme on 7 September 2018

10 April 2018

Inquiry reopens into Cuadrilla’s appeal against refusal of permission to frack at Roseacre Wood.

14 May 2018

Drilling equipment delivered to the IGas shale gas site at Tinker Lane in Nottinghamshire

17 May 2018

Written ministerial statement on shale gas proposes making non-fracking shale gas sites permitted development, bypassing the need for planning permission, and to take decisions on shale gas production schemes out of local authority control. It also introduced a new planning brokeridge service for shale gas applications and a £1.6m shale support fund “to build capacity and capability” in local councils.

7 June 2018

Planning inspector approves Ineos shale gas drilling plans for Harthill in south Yorkshire. No work has yet been carried out at the site

19 June 2018

Ineos and Reach Coal Seam Gas lose legal challenge against Scottish government policy on fracking

6 July 2018

Welsh government introduced a new policy of no new exploration licences and no support for fracking.

24 July 2018

Cuadrilla granted fracking consent for first horizontal well at Preston New Road

25 July 2018

Government revises National Planning Policy Framework to require English councils to recognise benefits of onshore hydrocarbons for energy security and transition to a low carbon economy

190524 NPPF para 209

Paragraph 209a of the revised National Planning Policy Framework

16 August 2018

Planning inspector approves Ineos shale gas drilling plans for Bramleymoor Lane, at Marsh Lane in Derbyshire. No work has yet been carried out at the site

26 September 2018

Three men jailed for anti-fracking protest outside Preston New Road

5 October 2018

High Court grants temporary injunction against fracking at Preston New Road but lifts it on 12 October 2018

15 October 2018

Cuadrilla starts fracking its first horizontal well at Preston New Road, PNR1z as protesters blockade the site

181015 1045 pnr dod

Protest outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road on the first day of fracking, 15 October 2018. Photo: DrillOrDrop

17 October 2018

Appeal Court quashes “manifestly excessive” jail sentences of three campaigners who took part in protests outside Preston New Road

18 October 2018

First seismic events caused by fracking at Preston New Road. There were a total of 56 tremors, the largest measuring 1.5ML, before Cuadrilla stopped injections on 15 December 2018. DrillOrDrop 2018 PNR tremor tracker

pnr 181024 Eddie Thornton

Opponents of fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site, 24 October 2018. Photo: Eddie Thornton

17 December 2018

IGas announces that its Tinker Lane site failed to find the Bowland Shale

18 December 2018

Fracking equipment moved off Preston New Road

15 January 2019

Public inquiry opens into IGas appeal against refusal of permission to test its Ellesmere Port well. The local government secretary is due to make a decision in 2020

22 January 2019

IGas announces spud of its shale gas well at Springs Road, Misson, north Nottinghamshire

4 February 2019

IGas confirms it plans to restore the Tinker Lane shale gas site in Nottinghamshire

6 February 2019

Cuadrilla calls for urgent review of the traffic light system, the rules on fracking-induced earth tremors, after revealing it fully fractured only 5% of PNR-1z. Opponents say the regulations should stand.

12 February 2019

Local government secretary, James Brokenshire, refuses Cuadrilla’s appeal against refusal of permission to frack at Roseacre Wood

1 March 2019

Data reveals Cuadrilla vented methane several times during well tests. The company was later found to have breached its environmental permit.

pnr 181102 Cuadrilla Resources

Gas flares at Cuadrilla’s fracking site at Preston New Road near Blackpool, 2 November 2018. Photo: Cuadrilla Resources

6 March 2019

Campaigners win court challenge to government support for fracking in the National Planning Policy Framework. A key paragraph on shale gas is removed from the NPPF.

3 April 2019

Anti-fracking campaigners win appeal against key parts of Ineos protest injunction

28 April 2019

The shale gas commissioner, Natascha Engel, resigns after just over six months over the traffic light system. She accuses the then energy secretary, Greg Clark, of “listening to campaign groups rather than science” and “effectively putting an end to fracking in the UK”.

9 May 2019

Opposition to fracking rises to a record high and support falls to record low in government quarterly survey

11 June 2019

Pubic inquiry into Ineos shale gas plans at Woodsetts, south Yorkshire. The decision is due to be made by the local government secretary in 2020.

27 June 2019

IGas announces ‘highly encouraging’ results from its site at Springs Road, Misson, but there’s no news on whether it will frack the site

28 June 2019

Anti-fracking protesters found in contempt of court for breaching Cuadrilla’s injunction outside Preston New Road

16 July 2019

Fracking equipment returns to Preston New Road

190906 Altcar Moss site

Notices marking boundary of proposed fracking site, Altcar Moss. Photo: DrillOrDrop

17 July 2019

Aurora Energy Resources publishes plans for drilling and fracking at Altcar Moss near Formby in Lancashire

15 August 2019

Fracking resumes at Preston New Road on the second horizontal well, PNR2. Data later shows Cuadrilla fracked just seven of the 45 planned stages of the well.

21 August 2019

1.6ML earth tremor recorded at Preston New Road

25 August 2019

2.1ML tremor recorded at Preston New Road

26 August 2019

pnr 190826 uwtoc-2

Campaigners outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road near Blackpool, 26 August 2019. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

2.9ML tremor recorded at Preston New Road – the UK’s largest fracking-induced seismic event. The Oil & Gas Authority suspends fracking at Preston New Road

2 October 2019

Frack pumps leave Preston New Road as campaigners mark 1,000 days of protest

3 October 2019

Scottish government confirms ‘no support’ for fracking but steps back from ban

23 October 2019

National Audit Office says government is unclear on fracking costs, benefits and clean-ups

2 November 2019

OGA publishes report on PNR1z earth tremors

The UK government introduces an immediate moratorium on fracking in England.

23 replies »

  1. This is such great news, and many many thanks to Drill or Drop for all the faithful reporting over the years. Invaluable. Even though this is a moratorium only and not a ban and could be reversed if Boris J wins the general election, it’s a wonderful day for all those hardy and devoted campaigners that have poured all their personal resources into resisting this destructive and unneeded pillaging of local environments. Lots of love to allxxxxxx

  2. Thank you Ruth and Paul for this round up of events, we cant thank you enough for all the news and truth amongst all the hype and spin. Congratulations also to everyone who fought so hard for this moratorium.
    Not over of course yet, and probably a nod towards electioneering, but a precedent is a precedent, and now it is all of UK, England Scotland Ireland and Wales with moratoriums.
    You cant say fairer than that.
    There are still enough loopholes ifs ands and buts and maybes to drive an entire convoy and fracking rig trucks yet. But a start is a start.
    Now if this government loses the election and Brexit doesn’t eclipse everything to let them back in the back door.
    There is yet still a chance to nail the fracking lid down for good and for all.

  3. Let me add my appreciation of Ruth’s work and my gratitude for it. She and her team have over the last years kept us all informed on what was going on on all things fracking and related. Drill or Drop have attended demonstrations, court hearings and enquiries, have told us where the action was, which communities were under threat, what arguments the industry were adducing to justify their actions, what justifications the demonstrators were bringing forward to justify actions seen by some as extreme. They have borne criticism and attack bravely, seeking at all times to be even handed and to give a voice to all, for or against fossil fuel exploitation. Our debt to Ruth and her team is considerable. Thank you.

    [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

  4. Thank you so much to Drill or Drop for all your amazing and thorough reporting on all things anti fracking. It really has made all the difference x

  5. Disappointing to see no reference to the ongoing HEYfrackoff and local activist campaigns against Canadian frackers Connaught and their Rathlin partners in the East Riding. No mention of the establishment of protection camps or local activists’ successes in 2014-15 in closing down the gas exploration wells at Crawberry Hill and West Newton. Both drilled through the Bowland Shale. Both hit problems which revealed the lack of regulation and the successes contributed to the support for the campaigns against Kirby Misperton and Misson Springs/ Tinker Lane.

  6. Drill or drop seem to make out that earthquakes are being caused only by oil works & in Surrey in particular.

    As you can see from this link covering UK earthquakes in the last 50 days is completely bias reporting & scaremongering.

    Shropshire has had 3 earthquakes in the last 50 days of 1.6/1.9 & 2.4 magnitudes & there are no oil works in the region so they are a natural fanominum.

    The paranoia being created by Drill or drop is inaccurate and a responsible journalist would publish balanced facts not just what appears to be a popularists cause that they seem to be supporting.

    • Clearly this is not the case MH.

      DoD has been reporting extensively on quakes caused by exploration for gas at PNR for a start.

      I imagine as a site reporting on the oil and gas industry DoD don’t see it as being within their remit to report in detail on other seismicity (which is indeed “a natural fanominum”).

      • You seem to miss the whole point Refracktion.

        You seem to agree it is a natural fanominum in a area where there is no oil & gas exploration or production at a much higher magnitude earthquake.

        So where is the argument to prove a 0.8 magnitude earthquake in Surrey was caused by oil exploration.

        Obviously it is as stated by the scientist that the earthquakes are not linked to oil exploration or production.

        Maybe Drill or drop would be kind enough to level the playing field with a article giving this as a comparison but I doubt it will as it will not further the cause.

        These earthquakes in Shropshire are not unusual or big news.

          • Refraction

            If you follow the link in my first comment.

            You will see all earthquakes & there magnitude in the last 50 days in the UK.

            Earthquakes don’t only happen in Surrey or where there is oil & gas exploration or production.

            They happen all over the country & the world as the Earth’s plates move.

          • Well done drip drop and all the well off toffs who campaigned to keep our country at the mercy of Putin and the other dodgy suppliers of our future gas supplies.Im sure all the pensioners who can’t afford to put on the heating because of cost..I hope you are all proud of yourselves.Thank goodness for UKOG and other non fracking oilers to try and make our country self sufficient in gas supplies.Just think how much damage and what conditions workers have who supply gas from the East.. Well done again you should be ashamed of yourselves ,But looking at the state of some of you and the hypocrisy you show each day I doubt guilt is a word even in your vocabularies.

            • Only a small chip on your shoulder then? 😂

              Putin, cheap gas, freezing pensioners?

              You are channelling that Mad Reverend and his Backing Fracking mates then? They seem to have gone very quiet since Friday don’t they?

            • You don’t seem to be aware that Andrea Leadsom went on the BBC Today radio news at around 8.10 on Saturday morning and categorically stated that there is absolutely no basis for concern about fuel security arising from the moratorium – so much for your Putin obsession and Government lies about the need for fracking……..

          • Hi Paul

            Thank you for your response

            Unfortunately considering the number of negative articles written by D or D covering earthquakes,planning, demonstration, court cases. I can not agree that that couple of sentences in this article express the reality of oil & gas production in this country yet alone the nation picture of this nationally & world occurring fanominum which is being used as a consistent falsehood against a positive conventional oil production future for this country by a minority.

            It would in my opinion be helpful to have realistic & constuctive journalism highlighting the pros & cons of oil & gas exploration & production in the UK which could deliver a prosperous future & ensure best safe practice in a constructive way for the majority & to be able to find a pathway from the current situation to 2050 & beyond as oil & gas will still be needed for many things at that time.

  7. A wonderful summary of the last eight years, thank you Ruth. Your reporting has been superb throughout and you have always been very careful to give both sides of the story and elicit quotes from the pro- and anti-fracking camps (whatever MH might claim in his rattles-out-of-the pram rant earlier).
    Keep up to good work and thank you again.

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