Britain’s only fracking site in Lancashire experienced its largest-ever tremor caused by the practice last night.
Energy firm Cuadrilla confirmed that a tremor measure 2.1 on the Richter scale was recorded at its shale gas exploration site in Blackpool just after 11pm in the evening.
The event is the third “micro seismic event’ to occur at the site this week.
According to the British Geological Survey, the tremor had a depth of 2km (1.2 miles) and was felt by residents in surrounding areas including Blackpool and Lytham St Annes.
Last week Cuadrilla stopped work at the UK’s only active fracking site after it triggered a seismic tremor measuring 1.55 on the Richter scale.
Last night a spokesperson for Cuadrilla said: “We can confirm that a micro seismic event measuring 2.1ML (local magnitude) on the Richter scale occured at Preston New Road. This lasted for around 1 second and resulted in ground motion less than 1.5 mm/s. Hydraulic fracturing was not taking place at the time.
“All the relevant regulators have been informed and we have verified that the well integrity is unaffected.”
She added: “Minor ground movements of this level are to be expected. Whilst this event has been felt by people on our site and some local households, it is well below anything that can cause harm or damage to anyone or their property.”
Tony Bosworth, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth, 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.”