The gas sector has encountered many issues in its battle in the last decade to make fracking commercially viable in the UK. But recent events have demonstrated the dangers of fracking in Blackpool, even by the industry’s own standards. Just over a week after starting on a second well near Blackpool, private company Cuadrilla was forced to suspend all fracking due to a series of earthquakes.
Guidelines stipulate that fracking companies must suspend work for 18 hours when they trigger earthquakes of a magnitude of 0.5 or above. However, despite these guidelines, a series of earthquakes over the bank holiday weekend occurred and reached a magnitude of 2.9 by Monday morning. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a technique which can be used in the extraction of gas from shale rock. It is estimated that more than 2.5 million wells have been hydraulically fractured worldwide. Nonetheless, the dangers of this process in the UK have been somewhat undermined.
The unprecedented seismic activity looks like a legitimate cause for concern. Scientists have said that it is difficult to accurately predict what will happen next because the stress in the rocks has not been measured sufficiently. At a local level, distressed residents have considered a class action against the private company Cuadrilla for the damage caused by fracking which has caused damage to property, higher insurance premiums and growing anxiety amongst residents. Allyson Wright made a great analogy in relation to this posted in local pressure group Resident Action on Fylde Fracking (RAFF):
The events of the weekend have prompted a response from Boris Johnson’s government, which prior to the incident appeared to be relaxing the regulation of fracking in the UK. Fylde MP Mark Menzies called the debate over concerns that communities need to have a say. He said: “I called the debate in Parliament because I am opposed to the move to give hydraulic fracturing permitted development rights. But amidst Brexit negotiations, the government is already stretched thin and it will be interesting to see whether any action is taken to prevent the events of the weekend unfolding again in the near future.
We would like to hear from residents who have been affected by the fracking in the Lancashire area and find out more about the problems caused. If you have been affected, please comment below and let us know your experiences so far.