Biggest tremor yet leaves residents across Blackpool and Fylde shocked and angry

Fracking at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton
Fracking at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton

The biggest earth tremor yet since fracking began in Lancashire left residents across a wide area of Fylde shocked and angry on Monday morning.

The latest micro seismic event, rated by the British Geological Survey at 2.9ML following another on Saturday night recorded at 2.1 ML, was felt as far afield as parts of Blackpool, St Annes, Warton, Wesham, Weeton and Wrea Green.

Fracking firm Cuadrilla has confirmed it was not hydraulically fracturing at the time and says it is investigating the cause of the tremor.Mark Menzies MP, whose constituency covers the fracking site at Little Plumpton says he is to call for a ' full cessation' of the shale gas industry operating on the Fylde coast, while Gordon Marsden, MP for neighbouring Blackpool South, has pledged to raise the issue with the environment minister and is to demand a statement on the matter in the house when Parliament resumes after the summer break.

Meanwhile, anti-fracking pressure groups Frack Free Lancashire and the Preston New Road Action Group have called for fracking to be stopped immediately.

The Oil and Gas Authority has confirmed that fracking at the Preston New Road site in Little Plumpton has been suspended and will remain so until the authority has investigated.

Stephen Collier, who lives at Langdale Road, Mereside, Blackpool,. said of the tremor: "There was a big rumble which went on for about five seconds - the whole house shook."

Sandra Ball, who lives in Knarebrough Avenue, near Blackpool's Stanley Park, said: "My house is a good few miles away from the fracking site, but it was shaking - do they want houses actually collapsing before this ridiculous fiasco is stopped?"

Michael Ducker, who lives just off Midgeland Road, Marton, said: "I am extremely worried. I have a newborn baby in the house and I'm scared to leave my fiance and baby and go to work.

"If anything happens to my house or family I will sue the Government and Cuadrilla for every penny I can.

"The Government's decision (to allow fracking) and Cuadrilla's actions are literally shaking the foundations of my new build house and who knows what kind of damage it is causing. They need to be stopped now."

Andy Courtney, from Warton, said: "There was no damage but a significant audible rumble.

"We are about four or five miles from the fracking site in Warton.

"My daughter in Wrea Green also contacted me immediately afterwards to ask if I’d felt that."

Stephen Lightfoot said: "We live in the Cartmell Road area of St. Annes, and the whole house shook sideways with a loud rumbling noise, all lasting around five seconds or so; but quite frightening nonetheless."

A resident of Redwood Drive in the Whitehills area of Marton, said: "Our house was shaking and I even felt the footpath move under my feet.

"We only moved in two weeks ago. This is really unsettling and getting a bit ridiculous after that one the other night."

Mr Menzies said: “Throughout my time as the MP for Fylde, I have called for stringent and robust regulation of the shale gas industry to ensure the safety of local residents.

“This has led to a number of regulations being implemented, including the Traffic Light System for monitoring seismicity.

“The TLS limit, which was decided with input from the shale gas industry, is set at 0.5Ml - a level which ensures the safety of local residents and their properties.

“Since hydraulic fracturing activities begun at Preston New Road we have seen these regulations in action several times, forcing the operators Cuadrilla, to pause activities for 18 hours and check all seismicity is in line with their hydraulic fracture plan before they can resume. But also and crucially, releasing this information to the public and keeping the local community informed.

“It was for the industry to show that they could operate within these parameters, which they have been unable to do.

“It is now clear that hydraulic fracturing is not suitable for Fylde or the people of Fylde and I will be writing to Ministers and the Oil and Gas Authority to call for full cessation of the shale gas industry operating on the Fylde Coast.”

Mr Marsden said: "It's very disturbing that this has happened.

"I have had many residents across Blackpool contacting and tweeting me this morning following the tremor.

"The Government has allowed this fracking to commence again and they now need to put a hold on the fracking at Preston New Road to allow an investigation to take place.

"I heard that Cuadrilla were calling the tremor the same as a toddler playing on the floor. I don't know how many toddlers they think can rattle windows and shake wardrobes from just playing on the floor.

"I will be writing a letter to the new Environment Minister demanding an inquiry into these tremors and when Parliament returns I will be demanding a statement from the Government as well."

A spokesman for Frack Free Lancashire said: “We call upon the Government to halt fracking operations immediately.

“Lancashire voted against this at every level of local government but national government over-ruled and have repeatedly given us bland re-assurances about “gold standard regulations”.

“Enough is enough. People are cowering in their homes and just waiting and wondering when the next quake will be and how much damage it will cause.

“We call upon our local MPs to come off the fence and press for an immediate ban on fracking. We are sick of being treated as human guinea pigs.”

A spokesman for Preston New Action Group said: “At 2.9ML, this is the largest fracking induced earthquake to have happened in the UK, it is very frightening when you hear a loud bang and things in the house rattle.

“Given that this quake was felt across Blackpool, the Fylde Coast and beyond, what is likely to have happened beneath the ground to the well at the source?

“We should not be being subjected to this level of stress and fear.

"So many people have felt it and are trying to log it that it is proving difficult to get onto the British Geological Survey site. Fracking must be stopped immediately.”

Saturday's 2.1 ML micro seismic event came after tremors of 1.05 at Preston New Road, Litttle Plumpton on Friday night and another measuring 0.53 on Saturday morning.

Any tremor measuring 0.5 or above means fracking must be temporarily stopped.

Cuadrilla has asked for the safety limits to be increased so it can operate more effectively.

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said: "We can now confirm the event detected at 8.30am in the area of our exploration site in Preston New Road, near Blackpool, was magnitude 2.9 on the Richter scale.

"We appreciate this has caused concern for local people and by way of reassurance it is worth noting that this event lasted for around a second and the maximum ground motion recorded was 5mm per second. This is about a third of that permitted for construction projects.

"As previously stated, we were not operational this morning and no hydraulic fracturing has been carried out this weekend.

"We are working with the team of regulators who intensely monitor our activity at Preston New Road to investigate the event and will provide more updates in due course.

"Hydraulic fracturing operations will remain suspended during this time.

"We have verified that the well integrity is unaffected.

"Please continue to follow our social media channels for all the latest updates as they become available."