Third "micro" seismic event detected at Cuadrilla fracking site

Christopher Furlong via Getty Images               Protest camps remain at the Preston New Road fracking site in Lancashire

Christopher Furlong via Getty Images Protest camps remain at the Preston New Road fracking site in Lancashire

Drilling for shale gas in Lancashire was given the green light earlier this month, despite strong opposition.

But it said the quake was "way below anything that would be felt at the surface".

Just days before minister Perry's meeting with the oil and gas companies, the UK government announced plans to facilitate timely decisions on shale gas exploration planning applications in England as part of a plan to reduce dependence on gas imports amid an ongoing decline in the UK North Sea's conventional gas production.

The process restarted on Saturday morning after a 0.8 magnitude tremor on Friday, which is categorised as a "red" event by the monitoring system regulated by the Oil and Gas Authority.

Only tremors above 0.5 magnitude are considered red alert, which would force companies to flow back the liquid used to frack the well immediately and halt operations.

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Any tremor measuring 0.5 or above means fracking must be temporarily stopped while tests are carried out.

Cuadrilla was hydraulically fracturing the shale rock adjacent to a well when the seismic activity was recorded, the spokesman said.

The firm has informed regulators and is confident that the integrity of the well is in tact.

"As per the hydraulic fracture plan in place at Preston New Road, work will now pause for at least 18 hours and is expected to recommence in the morning".

"It is anticipated that hydraulic fracturing operations will continue as planned tomorrow", it said.

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Friends of the Earth campaigner Rose Dickinson said fracking poses risks to the environment and the latest tremor was "deeply concerning".

But the exploration company said "micro seismic" events like this do not cause any damage and can not be felt at ground level.

He added: "It is an extraordinarily conservative figure far below the 2.5 in Europe or 4 in Canada".

Mr Egan said he expected more incidents to be recorded because of the sensitivity of the recording equipment used by the company.

Fracking resumed in Britain on October 15 for the first time since 2011.

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It introduced a traffic-light system that immediately suspends work if any seismic activity of a 0.5 magnitude or above is detected.

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