Cuadrilla vows to address tremor concerns so fracking can resume


Energy company Cuadrilla has said it will work to “address concerns” over fracking so that the moratorium announced by the Government can be lifted.

At the weekend ministers called a halt to the process following research from the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) which raised concerns over the ability to predict fracking-linked earthquakes.

In a written statement to the Commons on Monday Business and Energy Secretary Andrea Leadsom confirmed the “effective moratorium”.

She said it would be “maintained until compelling new evidence is provided which addresses the concerns around the prediction and management of induced seismicity”.

The Government is under pressure to make the ban permanent, amid concerns the U-turn by ministers, who have previously been supportive of the controversial process for extracting shale gas, is an election ploy.

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Cuadrilla, which has been fracking for shale gas at its site at Preston New Road, Lancashire, was forced to suspend work in August after a series of tremors.

It said it would continue to work constructively with the OGA to provide further detailed data, including from its second well at Preston New Road, “to address concerns so that the moratorium can be lifted and the highly prospective Bowland gas resource further appraised and developed”.

Both the Government and Cuadrilla continue to say natural gas will play an important role in providing energy for the UK for decades to come.

But with climate change concerns rising up the agenda amid major scientific studies issuing stark warnings on rising temperatures, Extinction Rebellion protests and school strikes, the environment could play a significant role in the General Election.

In her statement Ms Leadsom also said the Government was abandoning moves to deal with planning applications for fracking at a national level and remove the need for planning permission for non-fracking shale exploration.

The proposed planning reforms, which provoked controversy, aimed to speed up the process of giving the green light to shale gas projects.

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking involves liquid pumped deep underground at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release gas.

The Government has said shale development provides economic opportunities for jobs and investment, and can play a “key role” in maintaining energy security.

But opponents fear it can cause earthquakes, pollute water, lead to damaging development in the countryside and hit house prices, and is not compatible with targets to cut fossil fuel use to tackle climate change.