Liz Truss faces awkward radio interview as she’s told there’s no support for return of fracking in Lancashire – with PM forced to admit she hasn’t visited local site – but she insists Britain must boost home-grown energy to reduce reliance on Putin

  • Liz Truss endures awkward radio interview as she’s quizzed over fracking return 
  • PM struggles to set out how consent will be sought among local communities
  • She also admits she’s never visited a Lancashire site where fracking took place 

Liz Truss endured an awkward radio interview this morning as she was challenged over her removal of the ban on fracking.

The Prime Minister insisted that ‘local community support’ would be needed before the extraction of oil or gas from shale rock can take place in parts of Britain.

But she stuggled to set out how consent would be sought among local communities.

Ms Truss was also forced to admit she had never visited a Lancashire site where fracking had previously been attempted, before it was abandoned over concerns about tremors.

The PM defended her bid to revive fracking in the UK as part of efforts to boost the country’s domestic energy supply following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

She insisted that Britain should not be left vulnerable to Vladimir Putin ‘exerting pressure’ through Russia’s gas supplies to Europe.

But she issued a slapdown of Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, after he last week suggested opponents of fracking were ‘luddites’ and dismissed concerns about the extraction process as ‘hysteria’.

Liz Truss this morning stuggled to set out how consent would be sought among local communities for fracking

The PM was also forced to admit she had never visited the Preston New Road site in Lancashire site where exploratory fracking has previously taken place

Ms Truss insisted that Britain should not be left vulnerable to Vladimir Putin ‘exerting pressure’ through Russia’s gas supplies to Europe

‘We will only press ahead with fracking in areas where there is local community support for that and the Business Secretary has been very clear about that,’ Ms Truss told BBC Radio Lancashire.

‘Fracking is carried out perfectly safely in various parts of the world and the Business Secretary will make sure that any fracking that takes place is safe.

‘Because it’s very important for me as Prime Minister that any fracking has local community consent.’

The PM insisted ministers ‘simply don’t want to be in that position’ where Britain is vulnerable to Mr Putin ‘exerting pressure’ through Russia’s gas supply to impact global energy prices.

‘What I want to see is more home-grown energy in the UK,’ she added.

‘That means using resources in the North Sea, it means more renewables, it means more nuclear and it also means fracking in areas where there is local support.’

Ms Truss was challenged about a lack of support for fracking in Lancashire – including from local Tory MPs and the local council – as she promised the Government would be ‘laying out in more detail’ how consent would be sought.

Pressed on why she couldn’t today rule out fracking in Lancashire due to widespread opposition in the county, Ms Truss replied: ‘I don’t accept the premise of your question.

‘What I have said is, if there’s local consent, we will go ahead. We need to explore where there is local consent and where there isn’t and we’re still doing that work.

‘I don’t think we should rule out the whole of Lancashire.’

The PM was then forced to admit she had never visited the Preston New Road site, around seven miles from Blackpool, where exploratory fracking took place before being abandoned after her predecessor Boris Johnson banned the extraction process in 2019.

Radio host Graham Liver compared the site to the location of fracking sites in America where it occurs ‘in the middle of nowhere’.

‘I don’t think I’ve been to that site in the past,’ Ms Truss responded.

Asked if she should visit Preston New Road, the PM added:  ‘As I’ve said, we will only go ahead with projects where there is local consent. I’m very, very clear about that.

‘We will make sure that local consent is in place and if there is a concern about a particular site, those concerns will of course be looked at and taken into account.’

On Mr Rees-Mogg’s criticism of fracking opponents as ‘luddites’, Ms Truss said: ‘I wouldn’t have expressed it like that, I can assure you.’ 

In response to the PM’s local radio interview, the Liberal Democrat’s accused Ms Truss of showing ‘contempt’ for rural communities’. 

Wera Hobhouse MP, the party’s energy and climate change spokesperson, said: ‘Liz Truss’s excruciating inability to answer even the most basic questions shows her talk of local consent is a sham.

‘From Surrey and Sussex to Somerset and Shropshire, people are anxious that they will soon be part of a hair-brained experiment, with no say at all.

‘Her own scientists refuse to say it’s safe, her own Chancellor says it won’t bring down prices and we all know it will only worsen the climate emergency.

‘Why is the PM determined to impose such destruction on the British public?’

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