Does fracking cause earthquakes? An £8m investigation wants to find out

 
Courtney Goldsmith
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Construction Begins At Lancashire Fracking Site
Third Energy earlier this week laid out its hydraulic fracturing plans (Source: Getty)

A new £8m research programme aims to uncover the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of fracking in the UK.

The taxpayer-funded investigation will supply the industry with a better scientific understanding of the impact of hydraulic fracturing after a series of earthquake tremors were caused by shale gas operations near Blackpool back in 2011.

The Natural Environment Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council will carry out the research.

The news comes after a UK energy firm submitted its final plans to start fracking for shale gas in North Yorkshire to the Oil and Gas Authority and the Environment Agency earlier this week.

Third Energy, which said it hopes to begin work there before the end of the year, was granted planning permission for the site in May 2016. The plans set out how the company will control and monitor the process of fracking.

The Environment Agency's Mark Ellis-Jones said: “For the industry, compliance with their environmental permits is probably the single most important thing they will need to do, to demonstrate to local communities and us, the regulator, that the operations they are proposing are safe for people and the environment.

"This will be key for regaining trust and the social licence for the communities in which they operate."

Britain is estimated to have enough trapped shale gas to meet its needs for decades, but the use of hydraulic fracturing has been hotly contested in the UK.

Read more: Fracking firm Third Energy eyes £500m listing

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