New 'largest ever' tremor rocks Britain's only active fracking site at 2.1 on the Richter scale

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New ‘largest ever’ tremor measuring 2.1 on the Richter scale rocks Britain’s only active fracking site and shakes neighbouring homes in Blackpool as if a ‘truck had hit’

  • Cuadrilla, the energy firm behind fracking near Blackpool, detected the tremor
  • A tremor measuring 2.1 on the Richter scale was recorded at 11.01pm yesterday
  • It came just days after another earthquake measured 1.55M at the same facility

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An earthquake made the floors of houses ‘jump’ as if a ‘truck had hit’ after a tremor measuring 2.1 on the Richter scale was recorded last night – the largest ever at the UK’s only fracking site.

Concerned homeowners took to Twitter after Cuadrilla, the energy firm behind fracking at the Blackpool facility, detected a ‘micro seismic event’ at 11.01pm. 

The earthquake felt like ‘a car crashed in to the side of the house’, according to Rachel Clitheroe, who said her furniture moved after a ‘loud slam’ caused the floors of nearby homes to ‘jump,’ and ‘shook’ the walls.

It came just days after the previous record was set at the Preston New Road facility on Wednesday, when a 1.55-magnitude earthquake was recorded.

The latest tremor was just 0.2M weaker than the 2.3M shift felt at Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall in 2011, which caused fracking in the UK to be suspended for seven years. 

The tremor was recorded at the Cuadrilla hydraulic fracturing site at Preston New Road near Blackpool (file image)

Last night’s tremor lasted for one second and occurred when there was no hydraulic fracking taking place, a spokesman for the facility said.

Fracking was temporarily stopped at Preston New Road after Wednesday’s tremor, which Cuadrilla said would have felt similar to someone dropping a large bag of shopping on the floor.

Just minutes after the tremor was recorded people living less than a mile from the site took to Twitter to share their disbelief of the earthquake’s strength.

At 11.17pm David said: ‘Bag of shopping you say… just felt like a truck has hit the side of my house. Absolutely scared me to death. How long can this carry on????

This cannot be happening so close to a residential area!!! That’s two BIG tremors!! Please leave this town!!!’

And by 11.32pm Miranda Cox added: ‘Please explain the fact my floor literally jumped at 11.01pm.

Loud slam and a jump. More than a bag of shopping.’ 

New 'largest ever' tremor rocks Britain's only active fracking site at 2.1 on the Richter scale New 'largest ever' tremor rocks Britain's only active fracking site at 2.1 on the Richter scale New 'largest ever' tremor rocks Britain's only active fracking site at 2.1 on the Richter scale

Just minutes after the tremor was recorded people living less than a mile from the site took to Twitter to share their disbelief of the earthquake’s strength

The firm said the earthquake was not strong enough to cause damage to houses, even if people might have felt movement.

But today it was described as ‘like a car crashed in to the side of the house’. People saw their furniture move and it was ‘scary and eerie’, according to one tweet. 

‘We live off Preston New Road in Blackpool, our house shook it sounded like something crashing in to the side of the house.

It was scary and eerie’, Rachel Clitheroe tweeted.

New 'largest ever' tremor rocks Britain's only active fracking site at 2.1 on the Richter scale

Stephen Hicks, seismologist at Imperial College London, said the movement was almost as strong as a 2.3-magnitude tremor at Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall site in 2011, which led to the suspension of fracking in the UK for seven years

A spokesman for Cuadrilla said: ‘We can confirm that a micro seismic event measuring 2.1ML (local magnitude) on the Richter scale occurred at Preston New Road.

‘This lasted for around one second and resulted in ground motion less than 1.5 mm/s. Hydraulic fracturing was not taking place at the time.’

According to the British Geological Survey, the tremor had a depth of 1.2 miles and was felt by residents in areas including Great Plumpton, Blackpool and Lytham St Annes – which are up to four miles away.

Regulators were informed and the ‘integrity’ of the well has been confirmed, Cuadrilla said.

Stephen Hicks, seismologist at Imperial College London, said the movement was almost as strong as a 2.3-magnitude tremor at Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall site in 2011, which led to the suspension of fracking in the UK for seven years.

He tweeted: ‘M2.1 is the largest induced event so far during the 2018-2019 hydraulic fracture operations at the Preston New Road site.

‘It is close in size to the M2.3 earthquake in 2011 at the Preese Hall site which resulted in the suspension of fracking in the UK for 7 years.’

Those who felt ground movement last Wednesday blasted Cuadrilla for ‘playing down’ the extent of the tremors with their comparison to dropped shopping.

Cat Smith, Labour MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, tweeted: ‘We’ve woken up to the news there’s been an earth tremor – again. And again we have the usual spin from Cuadrilla. 

‘Our council turned it down but it was forced on us by Government.

We don’t want your dirty fossil fuels in our beautiful country. Pack up Cuadrilla! Lancs said no!’  

Corolyn Hutchin added: ‘Yet Cuadrilla claim that 1.6 is no more than the equivalent of dropping a heavy bag of shopping!

I’d love to see what kind of shopping they do!’ 

Cuadrilla responded to the criticism by tweeting: ‘We’re not playing it down but we are reassuring people about the level and impact of these movements.

BGS Seismology can’t normally detect anything below a 2.0ML it is so small. 

New 'largest ever' tremor rocks Britain's only active fracking site at 2.1 on the Richter scale New 'largest ever' tremor rocks Britain's only active fracking site at 2.1 on the Richter scale

Anti-fracking protesters took to social media to argue against Caudrilla’s claims the tremors were insignificant after last Wednesday’s tremor

‘We are sharing scientific information to put it in to context.’ 

Pausing work for 18 hours is the routine response for any tremor over 0.5.

Labour’s shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey has called for fracking to be banned, saying it causes air and water pollution and contributes to climate change.

New 'largest ever' tremor rocks Britain's only active fracking site at 2.1 on the Richter scale

Fracking was temporarily stopped at Preston New Road after Wednesday’s tremor, which Cuadrilla said would have felt similar to someone dropping a large bag of shopping on the floor

Environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth said in 60 days of fracking last year there were 57 tremors in Lancashire and that it cannot be carried out without triggering earthquakes.

‘Even small vibrations at ground level can be the sign of far more damaging impacts deep underground,’ said Jamie Peters, a campaigner for the organisation.

Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth campaigner, said: ‘Last night’s earthquake was the biggest recorded so far at Preston New Road and close in size to the 2011 earthquake which damaged the well at Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall site. 

‘We don’t have to wait for yet more evidence to show that the industry can’t frack without triggering earthquakes.

‘While this is rightly worrying for residents and is understandably their major concern, the key point in opposing fracking remains that it isn’t part of the future if the Government wants to avoid climate breakdown. 

‘It’s now time for this industry to end and Whitehall needs to instead back renewable energy and energy saving.’ 

The Government has said the extraction of shale gas through fracking could support the UK’s transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

New 'largest ever' tremor rocks Britain's only active fracking site at 2.1 on the Richter scale

Cuadrilla tweeted in response to criticism on social media of their comparison between the tremor and dropping a large bag of shopping

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