Fracking, the controversial shale gas extraction process, can continue near Blackpool, according to a panel of experts.
Government appointed experts have said that the process of fracking which caused several tremors outside Blackpool last year, can continue under strict conditions.
Utility Exchange reported earlier this year that it was expected that drilling using the process of fracking would be allowed to re-start.
In America the drilling of shale gas has seen gas prices fall dramatically and many regard it as important for the UK’s energy security. Cuadrilla has been test fracking outside Lancashire but it was stopped after two earthquakes.
The process of fracking has now been given permission to re-start after government experts said that while fracking is likely to cause more earthquakes they won’t cause any structural damage. In fact, earthquakes from drilling and mining are nothing new. Over the last 100 years over half of all earthquakes felt in the UK have been the result of mining for coal.
Professor Styles said “There’s no record of a quake at this size doing any structural damage. But they would be strongly felt, and there is a possibility of superficial damage”.
While there’s the potential of lower domestic and business gas prices as a result of shale gas extraction there’s also a concern about ground water contamination and protesters say it releases methane into the atmosphere.
There will be a consultation period of six weeks and after that the Department of Energy & Climate Change will issue fracking regulations. At the moment the panel has recommended four precautions: all injections of fracking fluid must include a preliminary injection, followed by monitoring; the growth of fractures in the shale should be monitored; operations should monitor seismic events in real time; operators should observe a “traffic light” regime, with quakes of magnitude 0.5 or above triggering a “red light” and an immediate halt, followed by remedial action.
Chief executive of Cuadrilla, Mark Miller, said “We are pleased that the experts have come to a clear conclusion that it is safe to allow us to resume hydraulic fracturing, following the procedures outlined in the review”.
However critics of the process say we should be concentrating on green energy. Director of Friends of the Earth UK, Andy Atkins, said “We don’t need earth tremor-causing fracking to meet our power needs – we need a seismic shift in energy policy. We should be developing the huge potential of clean British energy from the Sun, wind and waves, not more dirty and dangerous fossil fuels”.