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Controversy beckons as Truss expected to reverse fracking ban

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New prime minister, Liz Truss, is expected to reverse the ban on fracking when she unveils her energy strategy in the House of Commons later this morning.   A moratorium on fracking was previously imposed in 2019.

During her campaign for the Conservative leadership Truss spoke in favour of fracking stating, “We need to make sure that we are fracking in parts of the country where there is local support for it”.

Speaking to journalists at Westminster yesterday, the prime minister’s official spokesman said that the government would continue to follow its manifesto commitments on fracking.  The 2019 conservative manifesto laid out a ban on fracking, but contains the caveat, ‘unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely’.

In that context, the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy is believed to currently be sitting on a report from the British Geological Survey which looks at the effect of fracking including the possibility of earth tremors. Environmental campaigners have now called for the report to be published.

Previously a traffic light system required fracking companies to halt their operations for 18 hours if a seismic event of 0.5 ML (local magntitude) occurred.   The system was introduced after tremors damaged the steel well casing at fracking company Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall site in Lancashire.

The change in policy on fracking is likely to be politically controversial.

The Labour MP, Jess Phillips has already taken to Twitter to jibe, “I suggest that Liz Truss takes the first one for the team and has 40 odd fracking sites in her constituency.  Lead the way Liz”.

Meanwhile, the Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, who was herself once arrested at anti-fracking protest in Balcombe described the impending change in policy as, “ A massive kick in the teeth for the vast majority of communities who don’t’ want fracking, a disaster for climate policy, and a measure that will make absolutely zero difference to the cost of energy bills”.

Supporters of fracking, through which oil and gas reserves are accessed in shale rock, point to how the industry has significantly boosted production in the United States, in turn feeding through to lower gas prices.  Championing the policy in the UK, the former Brexit minister, Lord Frost, has suggested it offers the UK a “competitive and reliable source of energy”.

 



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