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Fracking banned in UK after earthquake fears | UK News

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Fracking in the UK has been banned after new research raised fresh fears over the risk of earthquakes.

The government has withdrawn support and has said it will block further proposals to change the planning process for fracking sites.

The UK government has previously supported shale gas exploration and fracking, which it considered a means to produce a domestic, low-carbon fuel alternative.

The decision comes after a report by the oil and gas authority (OGA) found it is not currently possible to accurately predict the likelihood of strength of earthquakes linked to fracking operations.

One of the shale exploration wells at the Preston New Road site saw natural gas flow come to the surface
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One of the shale exploration wells in England

There have been a series of seismic tremors at a fracking site in Lancashire this year, including a a 2.1-magnitude tremor was reported at Cuadrilla’s site near Blackpool in August – days after a 1.55-magnitude movement.

There have been regular protests at the Lancashire site.

The government’s moratorium will remain in place until compelling new evidence shows it is safe.



An explanation of the fracking process



How fracking works

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves injecting water and chemicals at high pressure to break up rock and extract gas.

There are currently three companies with fracking licences in the UK, all based in the north of England.

Only one, Cuadrilla, currently has an active site in Lancashire.

But the series of tremors there in August meant that fracking was suspended, pending investigation and review.

Protesters have been keen to stop the work in Lancashire
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Protesters have been keen to stop the work in Lancashire

The government lifted a previous, year-long moratorium on fracking in 2011.

But fracking has become a politically sensitive issue in recent months, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn saying he would not hesitate to implement a full ban if his party were elected into power.

Fracking supporters say the government’s new moratorium is an over-reaction.

James Woudhuysen, Visiting Professor of Innovation at London South Bank University told Sky News: “It has increased the sense in the population that we’re under siege from dangerous innovations.”

“And that’s not the case at all.”

The site in Lancashire has sparked protests
Image:
The site in Lancashire

The August tremors measured between 2.0 and 2.9 magnitude, with an average ground motion of 5mm per second, about a third of the level of motion that is permitted for construction projects.

But anti-fracking campaigners say the moratorium is good news for communities who have long campaigned for sites to be shut.

“This industry is poisonous, it’s toxic, it contributes significantly to climate change it has no place in our communities, ” Eddie Thornton, who lives near a proposed fracking site in North Yorkshire, told Sky News.

He says, “The moratorium represents a significant victory for communities like mine up and down the country that have been fighting fracking for so long.”

“But the timing of this announcement will now be lost on anyone. It’s a cynical attempt to grease the wheels of Boris Johnson’s election bus.”

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