Fracking inquiry launched after Blackpool tremors

5th July 2017 | Commercial Energy

Scientists will investigate how fracking can affect drinking water and its role in earthquake tremors of the kind caused by shale gas operations near Blackpool, as part of a taxpayer-funded £8m research project.

The programme, backed by the Natural Environment Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council, will examine hydraulic fracturing’s environmental impacts on land, water and air, as well as public attitudes to the controversial extraction technique.

The funding green light comes as a key shale firm submitted its official plan for minimising the risks of any seismic activity caused by its planned fracking operations in North Yorkshire.

They hydraulic fracture plan by Third Energy is the first of its kind under a strengthened regulatory regime for fracking, imposed in the wake of two small Blackpool earthquakes in 2012.

The Environment Agency said complying with the rules would be crucial for frackers to win back public trust.

Official polls have shown support for extracting shale gas is at record lows, and Lancashire country council rejected a fracking bid by Cuadrilla before the decision was later overturned by the government.

Mark Ellis-Jones, the EA’s onshore oil and gas programme project executive, said, “For the industry, compliance with their environmental permits is probably the single most important thing they will need to do, to demonstrate to local communities and us, the regulator, that the operations they are proposing are safe for people and the environment.

“This will be key for regaining trust and the social licence for the communities in which they operate.”

The industry was finally “on the brink of becoming operational in this country,” he added.

Cuadrilla is preparing to drill later this summer at its Preston New Road site in Fylde, Lancashire, which has faced protests since January including local councillors blocking the site on Monday.

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