Fracking firm Cuadrilla pulls out of Lancashire 'quake' site

St Anna's Road site
Image caption In October, Cuadrilla announced it was pulling out of its St Annes site

Energy firm Cuadrilla has announced it is pulling out of a fracking site in Lancashire previously linked to two earth tremors.

Hydraulic fracturing - known as fracking - was temporarily banned in the UK after the gas extraction process was blamed for two earth tremors near Blackpool in 2011.

The company said no further work would take place at Preese Hall near Weeton.

Opponents who claim fracking is harmful to the environment welcomed the news.

'Horizontal wells'

Fracking is a technique where water and chemicals are pumped into shale rock at high pressure to extract shale gas.

A Cuadrilla spokesman said the existing planning consent at Preese Hall was due to expire and it was "prioritising new horizontal wells that will provide better data about the amount of gas that can be recovered from the shale rock".

He said the firm would apply for an extension to the current planning permission at Preese Hall so it can seal the well and return the site to its former condition.

Cuadrilla was not pulling out of Lancashire and it was investigating new sites for exploration in the area, he added.

Tina Rothery, of the Residents Against Fylde Fracking (RAFF), said: "It's great news but what is the real reason for it?

"There is chemical waste down there underground and what they have done there has caused earthquakes.

"It will never be the same again."

She added: "It is a problem they are trying to bury."

Reserves 'worth £136bn'

The technique was stopped across the UK in May 2011 after fracking of shale gas deposits near Blackpool was linked to two minor earthquakes.

A study by The British Geological Survey placed the epicentre for each quake about 500m away from the Preese Hall-1 well.

A government report published in June last year concluded fracking was safe if adequately monitored.

Image caption Francis Egan estimated shale gas reserves in Lancashire could be worth £136bn

Preese Hall is the second site in Lancashire that Cuadrilla has pulled out of this year.

In October, the firm announced it was withdrawing from its Anna's Road site in St Annes claiming that it was partly due to "technical constraints related to wintering birds".

However, a spokesman confirmed drilling was suspended at the site in September of last year when a tool got stuck.

Cuadrilla's current licensed sites in Lancashire are Weeton (Preese Hall), Anna's Road also known as Westby, Grange Hill, Singleton and Banks, near Southport.

Chief executive Francis Egan has previously estimated shale gas reserves in Lancashire could have a market value of £136bn.

The firm also owns sites in Wharles, Kirkham and Elswick, which was fracked by previous owners.

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