By Shawna Healey
A magnitude 0.4 tremor has been detected at a fracking site near Blackpool in Lancashire, causing operations to be halted.
Caudrilla Resources, who operate the fracking activity, confirmed that they paused operations on Tuesday morning, as a precaution. The company subsequently released a statement, stating that the tremor was at an “extremely low level of seismicity, far below what could possibly be felt at the surface but classed as an amber event as part of the traffic light system in place for monitoring operational activity”.
The British Geological Survey, who provides impartial advice on environmental processes, recorded four seismic events near the site on Preston New Road. They stated that “Since hydraulic fracturing operations started at Preston New Road, near Blackpool, we have detected some small earthquakes close to the area of operations … All of the earthquakes detected at Preston New Road so far are below the threshold required to cease hydraulic fracturing.”
Under the traffic light system of the Oil and Gas Authority, the UK regulator, a firm is required to stop fracking if any activity greater than 0.5 on the local magnitude scale, defined as a red alert, is detected. Any activity from 0.0 to 0.5 is defined as an amber alert and requires firms to proceed with caution.
Lancashire has recently been a hot spot for anti-fracking activism, with roughly 1,000 protesters rallying in the area last Friday, because of the decision to resume fracking in the area in 2011. Three environmental activists, Simon Roscoe Blevins, 26, Richard Roberts, 36, and Rich Loizou, 31, who were previously jailed for climbing onto lorries at the Caudrilla Resources site, were recently released from prison after the court of appeal quashed their sentences, calling them “manifestly excessive”. Blevins and Roberts were set to serve a 16-month sentence, while Loizou was sentenced to 15 months behind bars. The trio returned to the site over the weekend after their releases from prison.
Ash Hewitson of the anti-fracking campaign group Reclaim the Power stated that “as well as facing growing local, national and political opposition, these recent earth tremors are proving what we’ve known all along – that fracking is too risky”.