Data reveals where people reported damage from fracking earthquake

Fracking damage stats map

The number of damage reports made to the British Geological Survey. Map: DrillOrDrop

More than a third of damage reports following the UK’s strongest fracking-induced earthquake in Lancashire last year were from one town, according to data released this week.

The information, collected by the British Geological Survey (BGS), gives the first indication of how reports of damage were distributed across the Fylde.

The earthquake, on August bank holiday Monday, measured 2.9 on the local magnitude (ML) scale, and was felt across the region. Fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site was suspended within hours and there is currently a moratorium on fracking in England.

Since the earthquake, there have been no published official records of damage to property. Cuadrilla has not revealed how many complaints it received or the value of damage. There has also been no public information from the mineral planning authority, Lancashire County Council.

The BGS data, published in response to a Freedom of Information request, is based on people who reported damage to property to the organisation following the earthquake on 26 August 2019.

It shows the BGS received 197 reports of damage from eight postcode areas.

Of the total, more than 70 reports (36%) were from the small seaside town of Lytham St Anne’s, south of Blackpool, in postcode area FY8.

The data shows that postcode area PR4, which includes the Preston New Road site, had 41 damage reports (21%) .

FY4, the postcode area covering the southern part of Blackpool, had 38 reports (19%).

The remaining 45 damage reports (23%) are divided between other Blackpool postcodes and areas around Poulton-Le-Fylde and Thornton-Cleveleys.

There were suggestions after the earthquake that people in Lytham St Annes felt shaking more intensely than people in places closer to the well site. One theory put forward was that the town is built on sand with a high water table and seismic waves were amplified when they passed through sandy areas.

The data does not help to prove or disprove this theory. It does not show how the damage reports were distributed within the FY8 postcode.

It also does not indicate the total amount of damage from the earthquake or where the most damage actually occurred.

People whose property sustained damage may not have contacted the BGS. Awareness of the BGS reporting system may have varied between areas so some may be over or under-represented. According to Cuadrilla, some of the damage reported directly to the company was not caused by the fracking-induced earthquake.

190925 PNR BGS tremor intensity

Maps showing the intensity of the 2.9ML earth tremor based on reports to the British Geological Survey. Source: Brian Baptie, BGS

But the BGS data on damage does appear to mirror the distribution of reports received from people who said they felt the earthquake.

BGS maps (see above) show these reports were also concentrated in Lytham, as well the area near the well pad and in southern parts of Blackpool.


11 replies »

  1. The headline is interesting-but how easy it was for the text to deviate from the reality!

    These are REPORTS of damage. Any further assessment of the “data” would require identification in each case of cause and effect. Maybe when those who have had their damage assessed and agreed and documented, a much more worthwhile picture may be available for discussion? Not being pedantic, but any investigation conducted by insurance companies, or even the police, would follow the same pattern.

  2. Equally important is that in Cuadrilla’s planning appeal decided by Savid Javed earthquake surveys only included a 5km radius of the PNR fracking site.
    This totally failed to include most of the worst affected areas of Lytham St Annes and the villages of Freckleton and Warton!

  3. Only two comments plus my earlier one demonstrates either that the population of the Fylde haven’t discovered the joys of Drill or Drop or they really are as apathetic as their voting history (always been a Tory shoe in) would indicate.

  4. Or, Peter, they are not that interested in PNR!

    Strange how the reality keeps on trumping the excitement. Mind you, it always does over time.

    • Really strange that English citizens seem no longer to care whether their home is their castle where they can raise their families in safety or simply prefer to ignore any threats that appear nearby that may upset their Tory bubble!

  5. You mean like those down wind of Sellafield, Peter, or under flight paths?

    (My parents used to live in a valley in Devon, far away from neighbours yet when night time flying was being conducted they could wave to the Hercules flight crew illuminated by their cockpit lights, who waved back.)

    There are threats to every English “castle”. Never been any different.

    • Big difference Martin is that the people you mention under flight paths and around Windscale know of the hazards and continue to live there.

      Those living around Preston New Road had all the hazards of fracking forced on them by a politician in London against all logic.

      Anyway he’s moved on to another poison chalice now and I wish him all the bad luck he deserves.

      Nationwide those backing fracking have spent untold millions of pounds without any gas successfully recovered and sold on. More bad luck to them too!

  6. Those who are anxious about earthquakes induced from fracking are likely to really think that they can see damage. This is known as the nocebo effect. The reports submitted to the BGS only have value in the context of the geographic distribution by a self selected sample of people who submitted the reports. Almost certainly skewed. Unless each report is followed up, & verified, it is a very incomplete picture of what actually happened.

    • Dr. Riley,
      Sadly Lancashire County Council do not wish to carry out the data collection exercise you suggest. They could have started off with the family in Kirkham whose home in Kirkham was honourably repaired to the tune of £10,000 by their insurance company. Unbeknown to most local residents Cuadrilla, under threat of legal proceedings, refunded this amount to the insurance company involved so the property owner didn’t even lose his excess or no claims history.
      Obviously the data you suggest would be very useful in fending off any further approaches to recommence fracking in Lancashire but Lancashire County Council are Tory controlled and intent on doing their master’s bidding!

  7. Most people are more worried about Heating their castle as its not much good if your frozen to death importing Gas is Exspensive & also pointless when we have plenty under our feet.

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