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Fracking and earthquakes

Green MEP supports leading earthquake experts' call for an oil and gas drilling moratorium in South East
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Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, has backed the call from a leading group of geologists and seismologists for a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in Surrey following a swarm of earthquakes in the region.

Risk is ‘too great’

A group of scientists with expertise in the hydrocarbon industry have argued the risk associated with continuing drilling operations in an area hit by 12 earthquakes since 01 April, measured at depths of between 400m and 1km, is too great.

In a letter to The Times, the five-strong group, which includes pro-fracking scientists like Richard Selley, says, ‘We believe that public health and the environment are not being adequately protected given the unstable geology, which had not been identified before planning permission and other permits were issued for the currently active drill sites.’

The British Geological Survey (BGS) is currently investigating the quakes and installing extra seismic monitors to calculate more precisely the depth, location and cause of the quakes.

‘Extremely concerning’

What concerns the leading experts is that the activities at nearby oil and gas exploration sites like Horse Hill and Brockham, operated by UKOG and Angus Energy respectively, might be causing the quakes and that the quakes might also be damaging the wells on site and rendering them unsafe.

‘The seismic activity in an area where unconventional fossil fuel drilling and testing is active is clearly extremely concerning. It is also unprecedented in the Weald in the last half a century. At the same time, links between unconventional onshore oil and gas drilling and earthquakes were established almost a decade ago in Lancashire.’

Member of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee

A moratorium on fracking?

The letter to The Times, a version of which has also been sent to the Energy Secretary Greg Clark to urge government intervention, concludes, ‘We are calling for a moratorium on drilling, re-injection and flow testing in the affected area be put in place immediately.’

Mr Taylor, a member of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee, has been calling for a moratorium on drilling activities for several weeks. Last month, the senior Green Party politician wrote to Surrey County Council, the Oil and Gas Authority and the Health and Safety Executive urging action.

The Green MEP is careful not to draw any conclusions before the results of an investigation. He says he welcomes the British Geological Survey’s efforts to further monitor this activity and ‘wholeheartedly’ supports the call from geology and seismology experts for a moratorium on any oil and gas activity in the geological region until the results of any investigation are clear. ‘The case for employing the precautionary principle is obvious’, he says.

Click here for more on the UN report on the pros and cons of fracking.

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