Fracking

Fracking rules 'embarrassing', says Cuadrilla

Fracking regulations are "beyond ridiculous", said energy firm Cuadrilla in reaction to the resignation of the UK's shale gas commissioner.

Worker at a Cuadrilla fracking site, Little Plumpton,
Press Association

Natascha Engel quit after just six months in the post, saying fracking was being throttled by rules preventing mini earthquakes.

Francis Egan from Cuadrilla, which owns shale gas extraction sites in Lancashire, echoed her views.

"UK shale explorers have spent hundreds of millions of pounds proving that we have enough gas beneath our feet to supply homes across the country for the next 50 years.

"Instead of embracing this huge opportunity we remain wedded to a miniscule micro-seismic threshold which has no scientific basis and is without parallel anywhere else in the world."

He added other industries - including projects like Crossrail, quarrying operations and geothermal - produce ground vibrations far in excess every working day.

Anti-fracking campaigners say fracking is harmful to the environment.

Environmental charity Friends of the Earth said the process was "bad news for our climate and environment" and "deeply unpopular with the public".

Are fracking rules ruining the UK shale industry?

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Fracking explainer
BBC

The government official in charge of shale gas resigned on Sunday, saying the rules around drilling prevent the industry from working properly.

Natascha Engel, who had been in the role for all of six months, criticised laws that force companies to stop operations for 18 hours if there is an earth tremor greater than 0.5 on the Richter scale (In the US and Canada, that threshold ranges from 2 to 4).

Ken Cronin is the chief executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas, the industry's trade body. He tells the Today programme a review of the regulations is crucial.

"Our gas imports, particularly from liquefied natural gas are increasing every year, and the need for our own indigenous sources of gas coming from shale gas are really really important.

"In the last six months, we've drilled four wells up in the north of England, we've attempted to frack one of them.

"The rules were always set really really cautiously and compared to other industries in the UK and also other countries. those rules were always said to be reviewed and what we now need is for that review to happen."

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