Frack Free Lancashire slam government’s fracking plans

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced that the ban on fracking, which was lifted by his predecessor Ms Truss, would remain in place. Upon becoming Prime Minister in September, Liz Truss announced an end to the ban on shale gas extraction, or fracking, and vowed to only allow it in communities that supported the controversial practice. However, Mr Sunak’s spokesperson has now confirmed that he would stand by the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto, which promised to uphold a moratorium on shale gas extraction unless there was new evidence on the risk of earthquakes from the practice.

This signals a major U-turn by the Government on a controversial decision that drew significant opposition from many MPs in the Conservative Party. 

MPs have previously backed plans to ban fracking, including the current chancellor Jeremy Hunt who said in June that lifting the ban would create “enormous disruption and environmental damage for little if any economic benefit”.

Mr Sunak made the commitment in response to a question by the Green MP Caroline Lucas, who said: “Yesterday, he promised to fix her mistakes as well as to uphold the party’s 2019 manifesto.

“So, if he is a man of his word, will he start by reversing the green light she gave to fracking since it’s categorically not been shown to be safe, and instead maintain the moratorium that was pledged in that very manifesto that he promised to uphold?”

Mr Sunak responded by saying: “I have already said I stand by the manifesto on that. But what I would say is that I’m proud that this Government has passed the landmark Environment Act, putting more protections for the natural environment than we have ever had with a clear plan to deliver.

“And I can give the honourable lady my commitment that we will deliver on all those ambitions. We will deliver on what we said at Cop [Cop26] because we care deeply about passing our children an environment in a better state than we found it ourselves.”

Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Danny Gross said: “This is a fantastic victory for common sense, the environment and local communities across the country who have stood up to the threat of fracking.

“The Government must now focus on real solutions to the energy crisis including a street-by-street home insulation programme and developing the UK’s huge potential of onshore wind and solar energy production.”

Fracking has faced intense criticism, with many arguing that the practice would not lower energy bills as the gas extracted would be sold at international prices, which has reached astronomical levels since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Jacob Rees-Mogg, who was Ms Truss’ Business Secretary defended her decision to bring back fracking, saying: “It is safe. It is shown to be safe. The scare stories have been disproved time and again.

“The hysteria about seismic activity, I think, fails to understand that the Richter scale is a logarithmic scale. People seem to think it is a straight arithmetic scale, which of course it is not.”

On the night before Ms Truss resigned from her position, the Commons was sent into chaos amid reports that ministers were manhandling and bullying backbenchers into voting against Labour’s proposed ban on fracking.

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Tory MPs were also left confused over whether the vote was one of confidence or not; such a vote, known as a three-line whip, means that siding with Labour amounts to opposing the incumbent Government and leaves rebellious MPs subject to disciplinary action.

Chris Skidmore, the MP who is leading the Government’s net zero review said: “As the former Energy Minister who signed Net Zero into law, for the sake of our environment and climate, I cannot personally vote tonight to support fracking and undermine the pledges I made at the 2019 General Election.

Craig Bennett, the chief executive of the Wildlife Trusts, said: “This is a welcome early sign from the new prime minister. The suggestion that fracking could do anything to help reduce energy bills or deliver energy security in the UK always was a lie.

“It was promoted primarily because it made the UK more like the US than the EU, and that suited certain ideologues.”

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