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Fracking 'unlikely' to be major earthquake risk for UK, claims expert – ‘Impact is low’


A Government review into whether the fracking ban should be lifted will be told the risk from shell gas extraction is said to be no worse than coal mining and can be mitigated. The Brexit-backing Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced on Tuesday he had commissioned a new report into the industry following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Kwarteng added it was “absolutely right that we explore all possible domestic energy sources”.

However, the Spelthorne MP also highlighted it would “take years of exploration and development before commercial quantities of gas could be produced”.

A four-year study, which has been led by Newcastle University, will inform the latest review.

The study has concluded there are now better tools to predict and mitigate the fracking-related risks of earthquakes, according to the Telegraph.

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Fracking sees water, sand and chemicals be injected into cracks between rocks in an attempt to release trapped gas.

A ban was imposed on the practice in 2019 after a magnitude 2.9 event took place at a site run in Lancashire.

A subsequent investigation found it was not possible to accurately predict the probability or magnitude of earthquakes.

Mr Kwarteng has subsequently asked the British Geological Survey to investigate whether any alternative techniques could be employed to reduce the risk and magnitude of any seismic events in the UK.

Professor Richard Davies, pro-vice chancellor at the university and petroleum geologist, told the broadsheet earthquakes resulting from fracking were unlikely to be a major risk.

He said: “We lived with them without much concern during the coal mining era.”

Professor Davies added: “During coal production, vast numbers of earthquakes were created in the UK right until the 1980s and the coal miners’ strike.

“Effectively, Margaret Thatcher stopped the earthquakes, and they were never very big. It’s the same set of rocks.

“The risk of seismicity is high, but the impact is low.”

Opinion polls suggest public support for fracking remains low.

The most recent survey found support stood at just 17 percent.

Tom Fyans, director of campaigns and policy at the countryside charity CPRE, said: “Opening the door again to fracking is an absurd decision by the Government that’s guaranteed to provoke fury and despair within any community threatened by a potential fracking site in their neighbourhood.

“Public opposition to fracking has increased to the point where it is hard to see how any project could go ahead without mass protests.”



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