Fylde Council calls for fracking ban on safety grounds

Fracking site, Lancashire Image copyright Cuadrilla/PA
Image caption Shale gas was first produced at the Preston New Road site in November 2018

Fracking should be banned in part of Lancashire for safety reasons, a council has said.

The Conservative-controlled Fylde Council passed a motion accusing energy firm Cuadrilla of being "unable to guarantee public safety".

The company insisted its Preston New Road site was "highly regulated, well-run and entirely safe".

A government spokesman said fracking can only proceed "as long as it is safe and environmentally responsible."

Fracking at its Little Plumpton site was suspended following a 2.9-magnitude earth tremor in August.

This prompted a review of seismic activity at the site by the Oil and Gas Authority which is yet to be published.

The motion, passed on Monday, calls on the government to ensure safety "by continuing to uphold the stringent regulations currently in place on the Shale Gas industry".

It stated: "The industry has not been able to clearly demonstrate it can operate within these parameters and guarantee public safety, therefore this Council also calls upon the Oil and Gas Authority to ensure all hydraulic fracturing operations in the Fylde cease with immediate effect."

Seismic activity

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: "We have always said shale gas exploration can only proceed as long as it is safe and environmentally responsible."

The process, which releases gas from shale rock, was suspended after a 2.9 magnitude tremor was recorded in August.

Current regulations require all drilling to cease for 18 hours if fracking induces quakes above 0.5 magnitude.

Earlier this year, scientists involved in monitoring seismic activity at fracking sites in the UK said limits should be reviewed and increased.

Francis Egan, Chief Executive of Cuadrilla, said: "I would like to reassure people that our exploration site in Preston New Road is an exceptionally highly regulated, well-run and entirely safe operation.

"I firmly believe a domestic natural gas supply established right here in Lancashire with much lower emissions than imported gas and the potential to deliver incredible economic benefits for local people is worth exploring."

Cuadrilla has said previously that no fracking will take place before permission to do so ends on 30 November.

What is fracking?

  • Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technique to extract gas and oil from the earth
  • Liquid is pumped underground at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release gas or oil within
  • Applications have also been submitted by various firms in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and for a second site in Lancashire
  • The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy says shale gas "has the potential to be a new domestic energy source"

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