Extinction Rebellion blocks fracking site entrance

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road hydraulic fracturing (fracking) site has become the subject of environmental protests. Extinction Rebellion, an environmental activism group known for its London protests in April, has gathered outside the site in Lancashire, blocking the entrance with anti-fracking signs and the group’s signature boat.

The protest follows the record breaking 2.9 Richter scale magnitude tremor that was recorded last month, reported on here. The seismic tremor was determined to be a direct result of Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road fracking operations, and the energy producer was forced to halt fracking operations until the completion of a technical review by regulators. The magnitude of the tremor was far beyond the Government’s limit of 0.5 magnitude quakes, the point at which operations must be suspended until a review is complete. This is not the first time Cuadrilla has surpassed this limit. The company recently requested an extension of its contracted operating time (reported on here), stating that gas and oil operations had been halted numerous times due to these regulations, causing nine months of unproductivity at the site.

The protesters have blocked entry to the Preston New Road site in protest of fracking and fossil fuels, though the fracking operations remain suspended. Despite the ongoing review and subsequent suspension of fracking operations, Cuadrilla has stated that it is continuing programmed well operations (separate from hydraulic fracturing operations) at the site. The company has also addressed the protests, stating: “We are aware of an ongoing protest outside our shale gas exploration site in Preston New Road, Lancashire. This is not impacting on operations. We have no objection to peaceful, law abiding protest whilst recognising that our neighbours, motorists using the busy road and our staff and contractors should also be able to go about their business without disruption, inconvenience or intimidation.” Cuadrilla has expressed its intention to continue exploring the Bowland Shale area for hydraulic fracturing opportunities, citing the need for domestic energy production. The company hopes to provide enough evidence of the benefits of domestic hydraulic fracturing to convince the Government to raise the legal seismicity limit and approve more fracking operations throughout the UK, allowing Cuadrilla’s business to continue. The Government recently hinted that it would be reviewing Cuadrilla’s operations as it reconsiders its position on fracking, reported on here. The results of this review are yet to be announced.

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