Fracking banned in England after earthquake fears

Fracking in England has been banned after new research raised fresh fears over the risk of earthquakes.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had "very considerable anxieties" about fracking, which is a controversial method of extracting shale gas.

The government has withdrawn support and said it will block further proposals to change the planning process for fracking sites.

It has previously supported shale gas exploration and fracking, which it considered a means to produce a domestic, low-carbon fuel alternative.

Image: One of the shale exploration wells in England

The decision comes after a report by the Oil and Gas Authority found it is not currently possible to accurately predict the likelihood of strength of earthquakes linked to fracking operations.


There have been a series of seismic tremors at a fracking site in Lancashire this year, including a a 2.1-magnitude tremor was reported at Cuadrilla's site near Blackpool in August – days after a 1.55-magnitude movement.

There have been regular protests at the Lancashire site.

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The government's moratorium will remain in place until compelling new evidence shows it is safe.

Andrea Leadsom, minister for business, energy and industrial strategy, said the government had been advised that the size and frequency of seismic tremors could not be predicted using existing scientific tools.

She said: "We can no longer be certain of the safety of shale gas exploration, and we always want to be led by the science. Therefore we've decided that we cannot take this further at the time being."

An explanation of the fracking process
How fracking works

The government's moratorium will remain in place until "compelling new evidence shows" it is safe, Ms Leadsom added.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves injecting water and chemicals at high pressure to break up rock and extract gas.

There are currently three companies with fracking licences in the UK, all based in the north of England.

Only one, Cuadrilla, currently has an active site in Lancashire.

But the series of tremors there in August meant that fracking was suspended, pending investigation and review.

Protesters have been keen to stop the work in Lancashire
Image: Protesters have been keen to stop the work in Lancashire

The government lifted a previous, year-long moratorium on fracking in 2011.

But fracking has become a politically sensitive issue in recent months, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn saying he would not hesitate to implement a full ban if his party were elected into power.

Fracking supporters say the government's nRead More – Source