Calls have been made for the Government to ban fracking outright following its decision to suspect the controversial gas extraction technique.

Ministers have announced the halt to the process – which is fiercely opposed by environmental campaigners – after a report from the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) said that it was not possible to predict the probability or size of tremors caused by the practice.

Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said the cessation would be imposed only “until and unless” fracking is proved safe but was forced to concede the ban may be temporary.

There have been long-standing concerns about the fracking industry moving into Cumbria. South Cumbria has previously been earmarked as having potential sites available, in particular around Barrow and Millom.

There have also been fears that fracking could be carried out in the Lake District National Park, although no firm proposals for either testing or full blown projects have ever been put forward for the county.

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP, Tim Farron, welcomed the announcement, praising the “tireless work” of campaigners.

“Climate change is an emergency that needs to be dealt with now, we must focus on renewable energy rather than being distracted by more fossil fuels.

“That's why we need a permanent ban on all fracking.”

The Liberal Democrats, Green Party and Labour have all demanded a permanent ban.

Workington’s Labour MP, Sue Hayman, response to the announcement was a little more frosty.

She Tweeted: “This is a disingenuous, cynical move from a party that has strongly backed this policy for years, ignoring the concerns of local people.”

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn dismissed the move as a stunt, adding: “I think it sounds like fracking would come back on 13 December, if they were elected back into office.”

Friends of the Earth’s chief executive Craig Bennett branding fracking a “damaging and deeply unpopular industry”, adding, “We must now ensure that legislation is passed so that the ban is made permanent.

“The next Government must accelerate the transition to a zero carbon economy by ending all support for oil, gas and coal development at home and abroad, and throwing its full weight behind the development of the UK’s vast renewable energy potential.”

Business organisations have largely been silent on the decision.

But Kate Garratt, vice chair and clean growth lead for the Cumbria branch of the Institute of Directors, said the Cumbrian business community needed to “move with the times” and
embrace clean energy policies.

“The power and energy generation mix in the UK is moving away from fossil fuels, no matter how they are extracted,” she said.

“Energy storage, wind, solar, electric vehicles, decarbonised heat and the supporting energy infrastructure are just a few of the growth sectors that are crying out for skills and expertise. 

“Cumbria business leaders have an opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder in the transformation of our energy sector and help the region reap the rewards for both planet and prosperity.” 

Cuadrilla has been the only company to frack for shale gas in the UK but had to suspend work at its exploration site near Blackpool in August after it triggered an earthquake.

It said it would be reviewing the OGA report and continue to provide data “to address concerns so that the moratorium can be lifted”.