The government has hit back at fracking firms, saying it will not reconsider its policies in what will be seen as a huge blow to the sector.
Both Ineos and Cuadrilla, two of the UK’s main frackers, had asked authorities to review the so-called traffic light system and allow them to cause bigger earthquakes.
But the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) denied the request, saying it had no plans to look at the regulation again.
“The government has given the industry significant support to develop while ensuring our world-leading regulations remain in place to ensure fracking happens safely and responsibly,” the department said.
“We set these regulations in consultation with industry and we have no plans to review them.”
Yesterday the boss of Britain’s first fracker Cuadrilla pleaded with the government to change its position on earthquakes.
Regulation currently forces drillers to stop work immediately if they measure tremors of 0.5 on the Richter Scale. The micro-quakes, which humans cannot feel, are much smaller than the 4.0 limit in the US where fracking has become a major industry.
“All we ask now is that we are treated fairly, with comparable seismic and ground vibration levels to similar industries in Lancashire and elsewhere in the UK who are able to work safely but more effectively with significantly higher thresholds for seismicity and ground vibration,” Egan said.
Days earlier Ineos boss chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe accused the government of killing off British shale using “slippery back door manoeuvres”.
It comes as the proportion of people who said the "risk of earthquakes" is one reason they oppose fracking rose to 40 per cent in December from 26 per cent in September, Beis data shows.