Gatwick earthquakes: MEP calls for action

MEP Keith Taylor with seismologist Dr Stephen Hicks and local oil campaigner Vicki Elcoate with an earthquake monitor installed in Surrey  in 2018 SUS-190218-120526001
MEP Keith Taylor with seismologist Dr Stephen Hicks and local oil campaigner Vicki Elcoate with an earthquake monitor installed in Surrey in 2018 SUS-190218-120526001

A call has gone out for a firm operating an oil drilling site near Gatwick to ‘come clean’ following an earthquake which struck the area on Thursday.

The call has come from European Parliament member for the south east Keith Taylor who says that a report from geoscientists points the finger at the oil site being responsible.

Three earthquakes have hit the area since February 14. Photo: British Geological Survey  SUS-190214-115518001

Three earthquakes have hit the area since February 14. Photo: British Geological Survey SUS-190214-115518001

Houses shook in the Gatwick area and parts of Crawley on February 14 when a 2.4 magnitude quake struck at 7.43am. A second smaller tremor followed just after 8am.

The region - from Dorking and Charlwood to as far south as Horsham - was hit by a string of quakes over a four month period last year.

Green MEP Keith Taylor said after the latest tremor that a new report from scientists at the University of Edinburgh sugggested that drilling at Horse Hill north of Gatwick could be responsible. He called on Surrey County Council to refuse a planning application from Horse Hill Developments to continue activities at the site.

He asked the council to bring an end to what he described as this ‘dangerous, climate and environment-destructive misadventure.’

In December, the Oil and Gas Authority - the government-owned regulators of the oil and gas industry - ruled out a human cause for the earthquake swarm. But the new University of Edinburgh report says one possible cause for the quakes could be the release of pressure at the well site.

Horse Hill Developments, which plans to start a 150-day production testing programme soon, has been approached for comment.