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Thu, 16 July 2020

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Labour calls for 'immediate' fracking ban after record earthquake at Lancashire site

Labour calls for 'immediate' fracking ban after record earthquake at Lancashire site
2 min read

Labour has called on the Government to “immediately ban fracking” after a record-breaking earthquake hit a site in Lancashire.

Two shadow ministers have written to Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom demanding that she take action to stop shale gas extraction in the UK.

It comes after tremors measuring 2.9 on the Richter scale were recorded on Monday at the Preston New Road site - believed to be the strongest ever in Britain related to the practise.

In 2011 an earthquake that hit 2.3 led to fracking operations being suspended in the UK for seven years.

Labour’s shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said fracking is inconsistent with the Government’s net zero target for emissions.

In her letter with shadow minister for climate justice Danielle Rowley they also cited the “fear, disruption and potential damage to property” from the controversial energy source.

They write that it increases air pollution, presents contamination risks from spills and mismanagement of wastewater, and “fracking is not needed for energy security”.

The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) said fracking would be suspended while the earthquake was investigated.

Government guidelines state that all drilling must cease for 18 hours after an earthquake of more than 0.5 magnitude is recorded, but the OGA said this suspension could last longer.

Cuadrilla, who operate the site, said it was looking into the incident and confirmed no fracking was taking place at the time.

But while it said it appreciated the tremor had "caused concern for local people", it added: "It is worth noting that this event lasted for around a second and the average ground motion recorded was 5mm per second.

"This is about a third of that permitted for construction projects.”

The 2.9 earthquake followed a tremor of 2.1 recorded on Saturday, and one measuring 1.6 last Wednesday.

Last month Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called for fracking to be banned and accused Boris Johnson of “bending the knee” to companies who want to profit from the industry.

But Ms Leadsom, a former energy minister, has previously dismissed criticism of the practise as “scaremongering” and called it the answer to Britain’s energy conundrum.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Government’s view is that shale gas has the potential to be a new domestic energy source, enhance our energy security and provide well-paid jobs.

“We understand the concerns of local people and that’s why we’ve been clear that any shale gas development must be safe and environmentally sound.”

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