The UK’s only fracker Cuadrilla has revealed it will make small “goodwill payments” to locals who claim their homes were damaged by a violent tremor caused by the company’s Lancashire drilling site.
Chief executive Francis Egan said damage reports number in the “low two figures” and that there is no clear evidence the earthquake caused them.
“It would be impossible to say if that was caused by the tremor, or is it just natural settlement in the building,” he told the PA news agency.
“But we do want to retain goodwill, so we will make some payments.”
He said no “major damage” has been reported by locals near the Preston New Road site, close to Blackpool.
Residents will be paid a few hundred pounds to help cover the price of redecorating rooms where plaster work has cracked, he said.
Locals reported being woken up when the tremor ripped through the site at 8.30am on the bank holiday Monday in August, shaking windows in their frames.
Many said their homes had been damaged by the 2.9 magnitude quake, which is more than 250 times bigger than the 0.5 that is allowed under Government rules.
Fracking has been indefinitely suspended at the site since the tremor and Cuadrilla said it would repair any damage it had caused.
However, Mr Egan revealed that some “obviously egregious” damage claims had been sent to the company.
“Lots of people have showed us cracks with weeds growing out of them, for example, or cracks that when you look on Rightmove you can see the exact same cracks in photographs taken well before the tremor,” he said.
Fracking, the process of pumping high-pressure liquid into the ground to split rocks and extract oil or gas, is a controversial process.
Its proponents say it could help Britain be more energy self-sufficient and keep money in the country.
But critics say it causes earthquakes and can contaminate groundwater.
They also question the wisdom of starting a new fossil fuel industry as Britain tries to lower emissions.