Two earth tremors in less than 24 hours around a fracking site in north west England have caused tensions to resurface about the process.
A 2.9 magnitude tremor was recorded on Monday morning (August 26), about 14 hours before one of 1.0 magnitude at the Little Plumpton exploration site on Preston New Road, near Blackpool, Lancashire.
A dairy farmer said there was concern about fracking’s potential impact on food producers in the area, although the firm behind the plan, Caudrilla, was quick to defend the process.
Caudrilla’s planning permission for exploration of shale gas reserves in the Bowland basin runs until November, but it has applied to Lancashire County Council for an 18-month extension.
With a number of other tremors felt over the weekend, farmer Andrew Pemberton, Lytham, said he was worried the tremors would cause damage to underground aquifers and local watercourses could become contaminated.
“Those little tremors should be bringing up some red lights,” Mr Pemberton said.
“The EU has said that if we have contamination in our area they could restrict food access up to a 30-mile radius. That is massive.
“It would eliminate most of the Fylde coast. Who is going to want to eat food that is coming from a polluted area?”
A Cuadrilla spokeswoman said the company was not hydraulically fracturing at the time – nor had it been over the weekend – and that the event lasted ‘for a couple of seconds’.
She said: “Being of a low magnitude and with very low ground motion it is unlikely to have been widely felt. Operations at Preston New Road remain suspended.
“The well integrity has been verified and remains unaffected.”
The latest issues at the Lancashire site, which has been the location for ongoing protests, came as a University of Nottingham report questioned the potential shales reserves in the Bowland basin.
In 2013, the British Geological Survey found there were likely to be 1,300 trillion cu.ft of gas. The latest study found there may be 200 trillion cu.ft, enough to meet the UK’s gas demand for around a decade.