Government U-turn on ‘fracking’

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The government has decided to stop supporting hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) for shale gas in England. An Oil and Gas Authority report has concluded that it is not possible to accurately predict the probability of tremors associated with fracking with current technology.

The decision is based on disturbance caused to people living near the Cuadrilla Preston New Road site in Lancashire and evidence from a recent report by the Oil and Gas Authority, which found that the probability or magnitude of earthquakes linked to fracking operations can’t be accurately predicted.

The decision is set to stand unless ‘compelling new evidence is provided’, with future applications for hydraulic fracturing consent to be considered by the Secretary of State. The industry is also expected to take the government’s position into account when considering new developments. Separate proposals to reform planning rules for shale gas are also being shelved for the time being.

Energy expert view

“Quite a change in direction in policy and one that places significant pressure on the industry to look into the issues around earthquakes/tremors and fracking, if the sector is to develop at anything like the rate as initially hoped.” Alastair Fells MEI, Incorporated Eng, PG Dip Fuel Tech, BSc Hons

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