Is time running out for fracking in the UK?

23 January 2019

Photograph by Rhiannon Adam

Scientists recently found that we can limit global warming to 1.5°C if we take action now. And the answer is simple – start phasing out fossil fuels immediately.

We’ve known for a long time that moving away from fossil fuels and switching to clean, renewable energy is one of the biggest things we can do to stop climate change. But instead of taking this advice, the government have been pushing through a new form of fossil fuels – fracking.

Here’s our look back on fracking in the UK in 2018 – the highs, the lows, and how you can help the fight against fracking.

The lows

Earthquakes at the Preston New Road site

Cuadrilla started work at the Preston New Road site in October 2018, and fracking began in England again for the first time since 2011. Despite protesters being at the site every day, fracking went ahead as planned.

As a result, there were 47 earthquakes in the area near Preston New Road of varying magnitude, but the biggest one was on par with the one in 2011 that led to fracking being stopped. The highest magnitude that an earthquake can be before fracking should be stopped is 0.5; this quake had a magnitude of 1.5.

Cuadrilla seek to relax fracking laws

Because of the increase in earthquakes after fracking began, drilling has come to a halt at Preston New Road. However, Caudrilla and other companies invested in fracking are now putting pressure on the government to relax laws around fracking and earthquakes, which would allow them to continue their work. The government have rejected pleas to relax earthquake laws but fracking firms continue to push for a government review on fracking law.

Cuardrilla have also been working to change the planning permission that is needed to begin fracking. They want it to be as easy to start fracking as it is to install a shed in your back garden. This is still being reviewed, so we’ll have to wait and see what the government’s decision is.

The highs

Fracking protests and frontline fighters

Since Cuadrilla arrived at Preston New Road, there have been a dedicated team of protesters there every day to make their voices heard and tell the fracking companies to ‘frack off’! They call themselves ‘protectors’ and live in a ‘protection camp’ from which they work to put a stop to fracking at Preston New Road and around the country. Although they are dedicating themselves full time to the fight against fracking, all of the campaigners are normal people who have put their lives on hold for this cause.

We recently worked with the British Journal of Photography to commission a project looking at the stories of some of the protectors fighting fracking on the frontline.

It has been amazing to see so many people from different backgrounds, jobs, places and ages coming together to make a stand against the fracking companies. You can find out more here.

Campaigns against fracking

There was also plenty of campaigning against fracking away from the front line. Across the country, people have been making their voices heard with petitions, campaigns and letters to the government.

Fracking halted for the immediate future

Probably the best news about fracking this year has been that it’s stopped as a result of the earthquakes. We’ll have to wait and see whether that permanently stops fracking in Britain, but Cuadrilla have recently been seen removing equipment from the Preston New Road site.

When fracking has been able to go ahead, far less gas has been found that originally forecast. At the Tinker Lane site in Nottighamshire, iGas announced that the amount of shale found was lower than expected.

And although various fracking companies have permission to frack at four other sites in Britain, no fracking has gone ahead yet, despite the original push for fracked gas. All of these signs indicate that fracking won’t be the ‘revolution’ that the Conservative Party promised, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that fracking will stop completely in the UK.

We’ll continue to fight against fracking, and support the campaigners who are dedicating their lives to ending it.

How can you help stop fracking

  • Sign a petition – Friends of the Earth are calling on the government to let communities decide if they want fracking to go ahead in their area – you can sign their petition here.
  • Join your local anti-fracking group – 64% of England is currently under consideration for fracking. The effects of fracking that we’ve seen in just a few short months in Lancashire could happen up and down the country. Check out our list of local anti-fracking groups, and see how you can get involved with your local one.
  • Write to your MP – taking the time to sit down and write your local MP a letter is a great way of showing them that you’re really concerned about this issue. There are many areas in Britain at risk of fracking, so if they live in the same area, they should be concerned about it too! They’re there to represent you, so let them know what you think.
  • Switch to Ecotricity – we’re doing more to oppose fracking than any other energy company, by boycotting gas that has been sourced from shale, and helping those fighting fracking with our People Power Fund. For everyone that switches to Ecotricity, we’ll put £60 in the fund, which will go directly to local anti-fracking groups to support their work.

Here’s more information about fracking and how you can help create a greener future.

Updated: 12 February 2019

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