A panel of experts advising the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change has recommended that shale gas firm Cuadrilla Resources should be allowed to continue with its controversial hydraulic fracturing ('fracking') operations at its Preese Hall site in the northwest of England, DECC reported Tuesday.
After the panel – who include a Keele University geophysics professor and a scientist from the British Geological Survey – reviewed reports detailing a number of earthquakes that occurred in April and May 2011 as a result of Cuadrilla's activities, they concluded that there is "no reason why Cuadrilla Resources Ltd should not be allowed to proceed with their shale gas exploration activities". However, the experts also recommended that hydraulic fracturing operations should continue with caution.
A report by the panel, called Preese Hall Shale Gas Fracturing: Review & Recommendations for Induced Seismic Mitigation, recommended four specific measures to DECC to mitigate the risk of future earthquakes in the Bowland Basin:
Cuadrilla has estimated that there is potentially 200 trillion cubic feet of gas bound up in shale rock in Lancashire and that the firm's Bowland shale project could deliver up to $9.5 billion in taxes on profits made to the UK's Treasury.
But shale gas exploration in the UK by companies such as Cuadrilla has also received significant opposition from environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth as well as from grass-roots campaigns organized by residents close to where fracking activities have taken placed or are proposed.
Responding to the expert panel's report on Tuesday, Friends of the Earth Executive Director Andy Atkins pointed out that earth tremors are not the risks associated with fracking, and that the practice has also been linked to air and water pollution as well as producing gas that causes climate change.
"There should be a full scientific assessment of all the impacts of fracking – a short consultation on one of the problems is completely inadequate," added Atkins in a press statement.
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