Academics' call to review the fracking safety limits

Cuadrilla's fracking equipment at the Preston New Road site
Cuadrilla's fracking equipment at the Preston New Road site

Fracking supporters have hailed a letter from 50 academics asking for the  earth tremor “traffic light system” to be reviewed.

Cuadrilla and Ineos have both asked the Government to relax the tremor limit from the agreed 0.5ML to allow fracking to reach its potential. The Office of Oil and Gas has said there are no plans to do so and fracking opponents do not want the limit raised for fear of damage and pollution.

One of the seismic monitoring sites that Cuadrilla uses to record  tremors

One of the seismic monitoring sites that Cuadrilla uses to record tremors

Cuadrilla’s fracking caused more than 50 tremors before Christmas at the Preston New Road site.

The geo-scientists coordinated by Professor Quentin Fisher of Leeds University and Professor Ernest Rutter of the University of Manchester, have said the tremor limit should be based on science.

They said: “When the traffic light system was first developed, there was limited UK data available upon which to base it. That has now changed, and there is a wealth of new data available that is specific to our geology and to a wider range of shale basins elsewhere.”

A spokesman at pro-shale gas group Lancashire For Shale said some of the academics were leaders in their field.

He said: “This is a welcome intervention from a large number of leading, independent experts in the UK geoscience community.

“For too long now, fracking policy and regulation appears to have been shaped by scaremongering not science.

“It is pleasing to see these academics pressing the case for a technical review of the Traffic Light System, in-line with the Government’s original intentions.”

But fracking opponents said the Government must uphold its “gold standard regulations”.

A Frack Free Lancashire spokesman said: “We are unsurprised to learn of the latest PR campaign intended to pressure the government to once again, cave in to the fracking industry’s incessant demands.

“According to the government, they will not be reviewing the seismic limits, and rightly so. The limits were set by the government and industry themselves, following a series of earthquakes in Lancashire, that resulted in structural failure and a seven-year fracking moratorium.

“There are no reasons to review the seismic levels.”