Fracking halted at Cuadrilla's Lancashire site after natural disaster

Cuadrilla fracking site in Preston New Road Little Plumpton Lancashire

Another natural disaster has hit Blackpool near the Preston New Road fracking site - and it's the biggest one so far.

An natural disaster of 0.5 has the TNT equivalent of 5.6kg - or a large hand grenade.

Drilling for shale gas in Lancashire was given the green light earlier this month, despite strong opposition.

Any tremor measuring 0.5 or above means fracking must be temporarily stopped while tests are carried out.

In 2011, Lancashire fracking in another site had to stop because of earthquakes.

One said: "Great to see such potent community resistance against this disgusting industry".

Critics claim fracking poses a serious risk to people and the planet through effects such as toxic air pollution, contamination of water and seismic events.

The technology has transformed the United States energy landscape in the last decade, owing to the combination of high-volume fracking - 1.5m gallons of water per well, on average - and the relatively modern ability to drill horizontally into shale after a vertical well has been drilled.

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But it said the quake was "way below anything that would be felt at the surface".

The energy firm said a seismic event close to 0.8 on the Richter magnitude scale was detected just after 11.30am on Friday - making it the biggest tremor since courts cleared the way for drilling to continue.

A Cuadrilla spokeswoman said that, as the operations had finished before the detection, "This is not an "red" incident under the traffic light system operated by the Oil and Gas Authority as we were not pumping fracturing fluid as part of our hydraulic fracturing operations at the time".

Work had been suspended for 18 hours following a seismic event of 0.76ML on Friday, and two smaller events were recorded on Wednesday and Thursday.

Cuadrilla said the tiny tremor was "way below anything that would be felt at surface, much less cause any harm or damage".

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said: "It is reassuring that the monitoring and traffic light system is working as it should.

As per the hydraulic fracture plan in place at Preston New Road, work will now pause for at least 18 hours and is expected to recommence in the morning (Saturday, October 27, 2018)".

Three protesters jailed for blocking access to the site walked free after the court of appeal quashed their sentences as last week, calling them "manifestly excessive".

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