Fracking: Lancashire

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 11th March 2019.

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Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Conservative, Romford

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps are being taken to prevent methane leaking from the fracking site operated by Cuadrilla at Preston New Road.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The environmental permit issued by the Environment Agency (EA) sets legally binding conditions to control both fugitive emissions (leaks) and point source emissions (from flaring).

The levels of methane in the ambient air are monitored at the site boundary by the operator and independently ‘off site’ by the EA and the British Geological Survey. In January, in line with strict requirements of the site’s permit, the operator notified the EA when methane levels were detected above the reporting thresholds at the site boundary.

These thresholds are set at a precautionary level to ensure a substantial level of protection. The EA’s assessment is that emissions have been well below the levels that would constitute a risk to people or the environment. Cuadrilla has an approved programme of activity to detect and repair leaks. The EA audited this on 15 January 2019 and no non-compliances were found.

There is no evidence to indicate that methane is currently leaking from the site. The notified levels are understood to have been as a result of short term operation of the on-site flare.

The EA is currently reviewing and auditing the operations of the flare and it will subsequently report its detailed assessment and findings.

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