Cuadrilla halts fracking after tremor

Cuadrilla has paused fracking operations at its Preston New Road site near Blackpool after an earth tremor was detected last night.

The shutdown was sparked by a micro seismic event measuring 1.55 on the Richter scale - and it comes less than a week after the company started fracking its second well on the site.

The company had to repeatedly stop operations at Preston New Road last year under regulation systems which immediately suspend work if seismic activity of magnitude 0.5 or above is detected.

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said: “We can confirm that a micro seismic event measuring 1.55ML (local magnitude) on the Richter scale occurred after we had completed the hydraulic fracturing programme for the day at our Preston New Road site. Most local people will not have felt it due to its small size.

“The equivalent ground motion would be similar to a large bag of shopping dropping to the floor.

“Well integrity has been verified and we will now pause operations and continue monitoring for the next 18 hours.”

The spokesman added: “The Preston New Road exploration site is the most regulated and monitored site in Europe and the systems in place are working as they should. Minor movements of this level are to be expected and are way below anything that can cause harm or damage to anyone or their property. All the relevant regulators were informed.”

The Preston New Road exploration site is the most regulated and monitored site in Europe.

The company announced that it would return to operations last month and has secured all the required permits and permissions to fracture up to 45 stages on its second horizontal well at the site.

It said work would be completed by the end of November and followed by flow testing of the well, with gas flow results expected early in 2020.

Opponents of fracking include Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who joined protesters at Preston New Road last month and demanded an immediate ban on the controversial process.

Labour says if the UK fully exploits its shale gas reserves, the amount of carbon released would “eliminate any hope of the government meeting its 2050 net-zero target”.

The party leader said: “We need urgent action to tackle the climate emergency, and that means the Prime Minister immediately banning fracking once and for all.”