Fracking earthquakes explained
Fracking in the UK has triggered many small earthquakes.
Cuadrilla fracked at Preston New Road in Lancashire over 2 months in 2018. During that time, seismologists detected 57 earthquakes.
The rules state that fracking must stop if earthquakes reach magnitude 0.5. This is a problem for the fracking industry. Cuadrilla stopped operations 5 times because it triggered earthquakes bigger than the rules allow.
Now the industry is trying to relax the rules after years of talking up the UK's so-called gold-standard fracking regulations.
Join the frontline against climate change
Fracking is a process to extract shale gas or shale oil. Both are fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases when burnt which contributes to climate change.
Friends of the Earth opposes fracking because we need to get off fossil fuels as soon as possible – and shift to renewable energy. What we don't need is a new fracking industry – extracting gas we can't afford to burn.
Here you can find out about the campaign to stop fracking – and what you can do about it. Together we can be a powerful force to protect our climate by keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground.
You can be in favour of fixing the climate. Or you can be in favour of exploiting shale gas. But you can’t be in favour of both at the same time.
John Ashton, former envoy for climate change at the UK Foreign Office
What are the government's plans to fast-track fracking?
The government wants to let fracking companies drill across the English countryside – without the need to apply for planning permission.
Click here to find out more about the government’s proposals and what you can do to stop them.
What is fracking?
Fracking is a process to extract oil or gas from shale rock. To get the gas and oil out, the rock has to be fractured – this is known as hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ for short. A mixture of water, sand and chemicals is pumped down the well at very high pressure. This fractures the rock and when the pressure is released, the gas or oil flows back up the well.
Renewable energy is already here – we don’t need fracking or coal
Almost all our energy can reliably come from the wind, waves and sun. In 2016, the UK got more power from renewable energy than coal. The technology is developing and costs are falling at lightning pace. Global investment in renewable power was US$300 billion in 2015: twice that of fossil fuel power.
Coal is due to come off the system in the next few years – and renewables are ready to close this gap, without the need for fracking.
Fracking: the facts
Spread the word
Why is fracking so controversial?
Wherever fracking is proposed it is opposed. Less than 20% of the public support shale gas. And over a quarter of a million people signed a petition to ban fracking.
Despite this the government has awarded more than 200 licences to companies for potential unconventional oil and gas exploration once planning permission has been given. Worse still, in 2016 the Government overturned Lancashire County Council’s decision to reject fracking.
What are frack-free groups?
Local frack-free groups spring up wherever fracking is a risk. They're resisting fracking – protecting people, the environment and the climate from the risks of this industry.
The anti-fracking Nanas in Lancashire are a shining example of how ordinary people come together to stand against fracking. Wearing matching headscarves, like Tina Louise Rothery (pictured), the Nanas are women of all ages who have formed a strong bond and become the frontline against fracking. They have fronted rallies and campaigns, gone to court and slowed down fracking operations.
Where could fracking happen?
The government has awarded licences for potential oil and gas extraction which cover areas from the North West to the South East of England.
Two fracking companies are currently setting up operations: Cuadrilla has started developing a site at Preston New Road in Lancashire. While Third Energy – 97% owned by Barclays Bank – plans to frack in Ryedale, North Yorkshire.
Other companies, such as Ineos, are also interested in fracking and hold licences. To get the go-ahead, companies first need planning permission.
How can we stop fracking?
Friends of the Earth stands shoulder to shoulder with people facing fracking and new opencast coal. We support communities to take action against fossil fuels.
Grassroots action works. By supporting local communities – and joining with thousands of others in taking action – we have the power to win the struggle for a safer climate for generations to come.
Whether it's signing a petition, joining a local anti-fracking group or turning up at protests against the industry, you can help keep the UK frack free.
In the photo our environmental lawyer Jake White (right) talks to local resident Carl Lee at a fracking demonstration in Balcombe, West Sussex, 2013.
"We've got enough clean energy alternatives, that will provide a whole lot more jobs than what this shale gas nonsense will ever do. The opposition is seen more across the country. I am feeling optimistic that it will be stopped once people realise that it's going to affect them, their families, their children, their environment."
John Tootil, nursery garden owner near Preston New Road fracking site.
Success against fracking
Around the world more and more places are saying no to fracking.
Scotland and Wales have both placed temporary bans on fracking. And Scotland has now banned fracking.
The Republic of Ireland has also passed a bill into law that bans fracking from taking place. While Northern Ireland has made significant steps to reject fracking by including a presumption against it in its planning guidance.
In Europe, The Netherlands, France, Germany and Bulgaria have all halted fracking. This is down to the huge opposition that the fracking industry faces wherever it tries to set up. Success is largely due to the resistance from local communities and campaigners.