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Graphic showing progression of tremors over time. A is the first tremor (October 18) and L was on October 25. Tremors C and E are in almost the same location.

Carbon fuel energy company Cuadrilla has been forced to stop its controversial fracking operation in Lancashire after no fewer than 17 earthquakes took place there within nine days.

The British Geological Society recorded three tremors on October 18, one the following day, one on October 20, six on October 24, three on October 25 and and three on October 26.

The intensity of the quakes had been increasing, to the point at which a tremor was declared a “red event” and operations had to be halted.

The incident prompted calls for fracking to be banned:

But the corrupt Conservative government has no intention of halting what it sees as a potentially lucrative income stream for the already-very-rich, and never mind the cost to the environment or the poor.

The Tories know how unpopular this policy is, though – and that is probably the reason Energy Minister Claire Perry has been holding secret meetings about exporting fracking across the world, breaking the Ministerial Code in doing so.

Perry and officials met with all the key shale players – Cuadrilla, Ineos, iGas and Third Energy – along with oil and gas companies including BP on 21 May. While her meeting with wind power executives on the same day was recorded on an official transparency register, the shale event was not.

Minutes of the shale meeting, which were eventually released under freedom of information rules, reveal:

  • Perry hopes to “create a ‘UK model’ for shale gas extraction which can be exported around the world”.
  • The UK plans to “make a virtue” of the industry’s regulation to help “export expertise abroad”.
  • The government will make the case for shale gas to “get past myths on the topic”.
  • Gas, including that extracted from shale wells, is seen as a key part of the future energy mix.

It will be interesting to see how the Tories “get past” the “myth” that fracking causes earthquakes!

Also worth noting are the suggestions that polluting processes like fracking, that produce global warming fuels like shale gas, are considered by the Tories to be a “key part” of the UK’s future energy providers.

And the suggestion that the Tories will “make a virtue” of the way it regulates the process is extremely sinister as it is tacit acknowledgement that the process is harmful.

Despite the obvious harm being done to the fabric of Lancashire, fracking is set to continue there – and may expand to more than 100 sites across the UK, if the Conservatives have their way. Vast swathes of land will be rendered unstable and water sources polluted in order to enrich a small number of greedy speculators. There are far more effective – and far less polluting – sources of energy that could be exploited instead but the Tories are trying to close them down.

If you are concerned about the effect of fracking, then you have only one option:

Remember this at the next election.