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UK fracking halted as government withdraws support

04 November 2019

The UK government has imposed an indefinite suspension on fracking operations due to fears about earthquakes. The government announced the suspension on November 2 after a report by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) said it was impossible to predict the probability or size of tremors caused by shale gas extraction.

Preston New Road site - Image: Cuadrilla Resources
Preston New Road site - Image: Cuadrilla Resources

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “After reviewing the OGA’s report into recent seismic activity at Preston New Road, it is clear that we cannot rule out future unacceptable impacts on the local community. For this reason, I have concluded that we should put a moratorium on fracking in England with immediate effect."

In a statement, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said: "Exploratory work to determine whether shale could be a new domestic energy source, delivering benefits for our economy and energy security, has now been paused - unless and until further evidence is provided that it can be carried out safely here."

Fracking activity was halted in the UK on August 26 when Cuadrilla Resources, the only company licensed to carry out the process, stopped operations at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire after seismic activity measuring at 2.9 on the Richter scale occurred during operations. The shutdown came less than a week after Cuadrilla began fracking a second well on the site after abandoning the first well as a result of multiple shutdowns due to tremors.

The suspension is a step short of an outright ban. Labour, Lib Dems and the Green Party want a permanent ban on all fracking operations with some MPs suggesting this latest suspension is an “election stunt” in the run up to the December 12 general election.

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