Experts hired to probe an earthquake near Blackpool left their paymaster red-faced today when they ruled that its controversial "fracking" for shale gas was the most likely cause.
An independent report commissioned by energy firm Cuadrilla into possible links between drilling at its Preese Hall-1 well in Lancashire and tremors which hit the region earlier this year found that it was "highly probable" drlling was to blame.
The report's release coincides with a protest on November 2 that stopped work at the Cuadrilla site near Southport.
Members of campaign group Frack Off entered the shale gas rig at about 5.30am. Six activists scaled the rig and unfurled a banner.
Frack Off spokesperson Jenny Boykin said: "Fracking uses huge amounts of water mixed with toxic chemicals, a large fraction of which are never recovered.
"The fracking fluid also leaches chemicals like arsenic out of the rocks when it is used, making it even more toxic, and so the fluid that is recovered becomes a big disposal problem."
Fracking has been touted as the answer to Britain's energy needs, but Friends of the Earth warned the process is draining cash away from environmentally friendly energy development.
[Abridged from Morning Star.]