Fracking chief rapped by opponents for calling for safety limits to be raised

Cuadrilla has been drilling at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, near Blackpool
Cuadrilla has been drilling at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, near Blackpool
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Anti-fracking protesters have hit back at calls by a gas firm’s boss to relax safety regulations.

Cuadrilla and its local contractors say it has contributed £15m into the Lancashire economy since 2016.

But Francis Egan, the shale gas exploration firm’s CEO, has warned that the benefits a shale revolution could bring to the county are being held back by unreasonable regulations governing its site at Preston New Road, near Blackpool.

The site is governed by a “traffic light” system which means work must stop if tremors are detected above a certain level.

Mr Egan has asked for it to be relaxed.

A Frack Free Lancashire spokesman said: “Frack Free Lancashire believe that the seismic traffic light system should be left to fulfil its function as designed.

“It is totally inappropriate to say that the limit should be changed simply because the industry has proved itself to be incapable of operating within it.

“We are surprised to read that Mr Egan thinks that his industry is ‘being held back by a micro-seismic Traffic Light System, set with an upper limit of just 0.5 on the Richter scale, with no credible scientific basis’.

“This is a very strange claim to make given that he wrote to the then Energy Minister, when this Traffic Light System was devised seven years ago, claiming that Cuadrilla themselves had developed it ‘in conjunction with with industry experts and [his] team at DECC’.

“Our local MP, Mark Menzies has long held up the Traffic light System as an example of what he describes as ‘gold standard regulation’.

“He was clearly as dismayed as we are at the industry’s sudden switch to demanding that that the limit should be increased."

Jamie Peters, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said in response to Mr Egan’s calls: “Cuadrilla knows the industry is on the way out and just isn’t viable."