The governments definition of fracking is based on the volume of fluid that is used on a frack stage, 1,000 cubic metres or 10,000 cubic metres per well.
This is at best a very loose definition and means that a company might, by manipulating the volumetric flows keep a well below the threshold in order to evade environmental obligations. In an article published in Nature on 23rd August 2017 the authors Stuart Haszeltine and Emeritus Professor at Glasgow University, David Smythe argue that there is little rational or scientific basis for what is now the legal definition of fracking. A comprehensive summary of the concerns expressed by Haszeltine and Smythe is available on the excellent DESMOG website here:
It is worth noting that in the now somewhat discredited Conservative Party Manifesto, Theresa May pledged to loosen up planning laws for the frackers by making non fracking drilling permitted development. This would of course give the green light to the frackers who doubtless would manage to hydraulically stimulate their wells with fluid volumes somewhat below 10,000 cubic metres. So in that case no planning concerns and no chance of triggering the £100,000 community payments either! Hopefully if May’s lacklustre team move to implement, the opposition parties will rally to fight to ensure that environmental obligations and the concerns of local people are respected and kick such a move into touch.
Professor David Smythe visited Tinker Lane site last year and met with David Larder of Bassetlaw Against Fracking, seen here at the gates of Tinker Lane.