The government of Liz Truss has formally lifted a ban on fracking for shale gas, despite the lack of safety data, saying it was “absolute priority” to increase energy supplies.
Company Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said all energy sources should be explored “so it’s good that we’ve lifted the pause to realize potential sources of domestic gas”.
The move is part of an effort to grant 100 new fossil fuel drilling licenses, the company’s business division announced Thursday, despite the need to “gather better data” on the safety of fracking.
A moratorium was imposed on fracking in 2019 after the industry’s regulator said it was not possible to predict the magnitude of the earthquakes it could cause.
An assessment of acceptable levels of seismicity on Thursday said there was “limited understanding” of the risks — but the government claimed ending the ban and allowing more drilling would allow more data to be collected.
Despite concerns about earthquakes, Mr Rees-Mogg suggested that higher levels of seismicity would be allowed at drilling sites – he said the current limit of 0.5 on the Richter scale was “too low”.
“The seismic limits will be revised to see a proportional level. 0.5 on the Richter scale, which is only noticeable with advanced machines, it’s completely right that fracking shouldn’t happen – that level is too low,” he told TSWT news evening.
Ms Truss defended the idea of potentially violating a pledge of the Tory Manifesto by lifting the fracking ban, claiming that the energy crisis is the “number one problem we face”.
The prime minister insisted she “will not allow anything that poses a risk”, but the government has yet to provide evidence that hydraulic shale gas extraction is safe.
The 2019 Conservative manifesto pledged not to lift England’s moratorium unless it was scientifically proven that fracking is safe amid earthquake concerns.
The prime minister told reporters who traveled with her at a UN summit in New York: “We will not continue with something that poses a risk, but it is clear that energy security is vital.”
She added, “The context we’re talking about here is that we don’t have enough domestic energy supplies… Fracking is part of the energy mix.”
Mr Rees-Mogg said energy security is “an absolute priority” for the government. “To get there, we need to explore all available avenues … so it’s good that we’ve lifted the pause to realize possible sources of domestic gas.”
However, senior government adviser Lord Debden told: TSWT this week that there is no evidence that fracking and North Sea extraction would have a meaningful impact on the gas price.
Environmental groups reacted to the government’s decision to lift the ban. Greenpeace energy security campaigner Philip Evans warned that drilling for more fossil fuels “will not lower bills, make us less dependent on volatile fossil fuel markets or reduce our carbon emissions”.
Friends of the Earth campaigner Danny Gross said fracking is the most unpopular and least effective way to generate energy in the UK, and said any attempt to water down the rules protecting the process “will only increase its unpopularity.” but would stir”.
About 143 parliamentary constituencies, mainly in the so-called “red wall” Tory seats in northern England and the Midlands, have permits that could allow companies to investigate the exploitation of gas reserves.
Ms Truss has stressed that the government will only allow fracking in areas where there is local support, but it is not yet clear which stimulus ministers will provide local communities.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said future applications will be considered “where there is local support,” and developers must have the licenses, permissions and permissions before drilling.
Chris Cornelius – founder of Britain’s first fracking company Cuadrilla Resources – warned, however, that “no sane investors” would support new projects – he described the end of the ban as a “political gesture” by ministers.
“I don’t think there is any chance of fracking in the UK in the short term,” he said the guard. “It’s a very challenging geology, compared to North America … They will never be to scale [in the UK]because the cost of capital is a huge problem.”