The UK fracking industry is coming in for further debate and criticism as the aim to change the current t legislation which requires them to halt production should they trigger tremors of more than 0.5.

What is fracking?

According to Ecotricity “Fracking (or hydraulic fracturing) is the process of drilling down into the earth, then directing a high-pressure water mixture at the rock to release the gas inside”.

In Britain, this process is primarily aimed towards shale gas reserves many of which have been found in the North of the country.

Why is it so controversial

As the full environmental impact of fracking is still not yet known many groups and individuals are opposed to its use especially when in close proximity to rural communities. This is one of the main reasons that legislation against fracking has been so polarising according to the BBC.

What are the issues

Local councils have the right to grant permission to fracking companies to mine within their area. As many councils are opposed to the companies the government has had to step in on numerous occasions to ensure that projects can go ahead.

In response, the government has made strict rules in regards to tremor levels and safety of sites, however, many of the fracking companies have viewed these as too restrictive to their projects.

Cuadrilla one of two major companies lobbying the government over the regulations has had to stop projects in some areas and been outrightly refused permission to begin exploratory work reported the Finaical Times. Although they have not announced plans to pull the plug, continued issues may result in such announcements.

The recent announcement that Cuadrilla would not be allowed to frack at the second site in Lanchasire has definitely come as a blow to the company.

Having already been denied by the council in 2015, this second rejection has been seen as at least partly related to the tremor issues.

Another primary concern that was noted was the impact that works could have on the surrounding area primarily traffic and safety issues.

A spokesperson for the company said, “We are naturally disappointed about the decision on Roseacre Wood and will examine the details in full before reaching a position.”

It was concluded that the roads in the area were not suitable to accommodate large articulated heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) noted the Financial Times.

Cuadrilla became the first UK company to frack in the UK for several years when it began operations at its Preston New Road site. It planned to drill up to four exploration wells at the Roseacre Wood site and carry out hydraulic fracturing.

A spokesperson for the company said in response to the recent announcement, “However, we continue to be focused on the shale gas exploration site in Preston New Road, where we have recently released very encouraging flow test results from the UK’s first horizontal shale gas well.” as reported in the Financial Times.

Concern with regulations

Along with Ineos, the company recently voiced concerns over the existing regulatory regime in relation to fracking in the UK.

The companies urged the government to change the policy that requires operators to stop operations for 18 hours every time an earth tremor of 0.5 reported The Guardian.

The UK Government stopped fracking in 2011 following an earthquake on the Fylde coast. Thus began the use of commercial fracking and the issues that have emerged with that.

The lobbyists are aiming to have fracking levels raised to be on par with what is allowed throughout the US. However, the Energy minister has said that there are no plans to even review the traffic light system which is in place.

With increased pressure from Brexit and the potential for a huge amount of national gas throughout the North, the lobbyist may have the potential to shift attitudes in the coming months.

But while restrictive measures are put in place the commercial fracking industry in the UK is still unknown.

Recent disocveries

The Guardian wrote “The country’s richest person, Jim Ratcliffe, founder of the petrochemicals firm Ineos, branded the regulations “absurd” and “unworkable” and implied the government should consider limits closer to those in the US”.

This comes in the wake of his companies announcement of the finding of huge levels of methane gas in the Nottinghamshire area. They believe there is a potential supply that could last years if they were only allowed permission to explore more as noted in the Nottigham post.

However, some locals and anti-fracking protesters dispute the findings and believe this may be used as a smokescreen o try and push through the companies agenda.