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.
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.