The UK Government has given the green light for shale gas fracking to resume in the UK, under a firm set of conditions.
The move comes almost a year after UK firm Cuadrilla Resources was temporarily banned from exploring shale gas in Blackpool, after test fracking caused two small earthquakes in the area.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has published an independent, expert report recommending measures to mitigate the risk of seismic tremors from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking as it is commonly known, and is inviting public comment on its recommendations.
In the report, a government-appointed panel has reviewed a series of studies commissioned by UK-based firm Cuadrilla Resources and confirmed that minor earthquakes detected in the area of the company's Preese Hall operations in April and May 2011, were caused by fracking.
The experts suggested specific measures and said hydraulic fracturing procedures should invariably include a smaller pre-injection and monitoring stage before the main injection. It was also recommended that hydraulic fracture growth and direction should be monitored during future treatments.
David MacKay, DECC's chief scientific advisor, said that if shale gas is to be part of the UK's energy mix, then the country needs "to have a good understanding of the potential environmental impacts and what can be done to mitigate those impacts."
"This comprehensive independent expert review of Cuadrilla's evidence suggests a set of robust measures to make sure future seismic risks are minimised, not just at this location but at any other potential sites across the UK," added MacKay.
An effective monitoring system and a traffic light control regime, where operations are suspended if a red light indicates seismic activity at a threshold of 0.5 or above, were also among measures recommended by the report.
The report also said an effective monitoring system, to provide near real-time locations and magnitudes of any seismic events, should be part of any future hydraulic fracturing operations.