Fracking firm Cuadrilla were forced to halt operations at the UK’s only active shale gas fracking site following an earthquake
Just days after being given the go ahead, operations had to be suspended for 18 hours after an 0.8 magnitude tremor was recorded by the British Geological Survey on Friday.
Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said people should not be concerned even though this was the 17th quake to hit the area since fracking started 11 days ago.
The Mail Online reports: The quake, which took place 2km underground, was classed as a red event under the UK’s fracking regulation traffic-light scheme and is the largest tremor at the Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, site since fracking began this month.
Cuadrilla was hydraulically fracturing the shale rock adjacent to a well when the seismic activity was recorded.
As a result of the ‘red event’, Cuadrilla has paused fracking operations for at least the next 18 hours as monitoring continues.
However the exploration company said ‘micro seismic’ events like this do not cause any damage and cannot be felt at ground level.
A spokesman said: ‘Events such as these result in tiny movements that are way below anything that would be felt at surface, much less cause any harm or damage.
‘All the relevant regulators were informed without delay and we have verified that the well integrity is intact.’
The controversial fracking work began 11 days ago after an environmental campaigner failed in a High Court bid to block it.
The exploration is the first fracking in the UK for seven years, after work by Cuadrilla was halted in 2011 following two tremors near Blackpool.
Friends of the Earth campaigner Rose Dickinson said fracking poses risks to the environment and the latest tremor was ‘deeply concerning’.
‘Fracking only started 11 days ago. In that time there have been 17 earthquakes, including one today that has reached a red warning level,’ she said.
‘This is deeply concerning for those living nearby and why the industry must be closely monitored.
‘When is the Government going to realise that fracking is the wrong choice for Lancashire, the UK and our global climate?’
Friends of the Earth has helped to organise a petition, signed by some 300,000 people, to stop the fracking through the planning system.
A spokesman for BGS said Friday’s quake was recorded ‘right on top’ of the Cuaudrilla site and was the largest of 17 tremors there this month.
‘It’s been caused by the hydraulic fracking,’ he said.