UK government ends support for fracking
The UK government has announced that shale gas extraction – or fracking – will not be allowed in England after new scientific analysis raised concerns about earthquakes.
The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) warned on Saturday that it is not currently possible to accurately predict the probability or magnitude of tremors linked to fracking.
In response, the government imposed a moratorium on fracking, saying that the practice would be paused “until compelling new evidence is provided” that it can be carried out safely.
This comes after multiple earthquakes were recorded at the UK’s only active frack site in Preston New Road over the summer, leading to a fresh wave of safety concerns.
The moratorium marks a major U-turn for the government after Boris Johnson urged the UK to “leave no stone unturned, or unfracked” in the pursuit of shale gas extraction.
Business and energy secretary, Andrea Leadsom, said: “While acknowledging the huge potential of shale gas to provide a bridge to a zero-carbon future, I’ve also always been clear that shale gas exploration must be carried out safely.
“After reviewing the OGA’s report into recent seismic activity at Preston New Road, it is clear that we cannot rule out future unacceptable impacts on the local community.
“For this reason, I have concluded that we should put a moratorium on fracking in England with immediate effect.”
The government also confirmed that it would not be taking forward planning reforms for shale gas developments, and that proposals consulted on in 2018 would not be implemented.
Friends of the Earth described the moratorium as a “tremendous victory for communities and the climate”, and urged the government to introduce a permanent ban.
However, the Labour Party accused the government of merely looking for votes in the run up to the general election, and said that the decision to halt fracking would only be temporary.
“Their own energy secretary says fracking is a ‘huge opportunity’ and that the UK will rely on fracked shale gas for decades to come, “ said Rebecca Long-Bailey, shadow secretary for business, energy and industrial strategy.
“This confirms that the Tories are only temporarily pausing fracking to try to win a few votes.”
Image credit: ©iStock
Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM