Wednesday, 13 November, 2019


Ministers announce ban on fracking until 'compelling' evidence can end safety fears

The decision to halt fracking comes weeks before Britain goes to the polls in a general election with the issue expected to be raised during campaigning Fracking banned after earthquake warning: Campaigners celebrate ‘win for countryside’
Kristine Garrett | 05 November, 2019, 22:10

It came after research from the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) raised concerns over the ability to predict fracking-linked earthquakes.

The announcement comes after a report by the Oil & Gas Authority found it is not now possible to accurately predict the probability or magnitude of earthquakes linked to fracking operations. Government ministers also issued a warning to shale gas companies that it will not support future fracking projects.

On the basis of the disturbance caused to residents living near Cuadrilla's Preston New Road site in Lancashire and this latest scientific analysis, the government has announced a moratorium on fracking until compelling new evidence is provided.

When asked on BBC radio on Saturday why the government was not banning it altogether, Leadsom insisted that fracking represented "a huge opportunity for the United Kingdom".

The energy department said it will not take forward proposed planning reforms for shale gas developments.

"The Tories are about as eco-friendly as a dustbin fire".

Fracking had been expected to feature strongly in the campaign for the December 12 general election.

But fracking, which involves extracting gas from rocks by breaking them up with water and chemicals at high pressure, is fiercely opposed by environmentalists who say it is at odds with Britain's commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Protests have resulted at sites across the country and are estimated to have cost public bodies at least GBP32.7 million since 2011.

"The OGA's considerations have been informed both by the seismic events and by independent scientific analysis of data from the first Preston New Road well".

The report follows reports of a magnitude 2.9 quake at Preston New Road, a fracking site between Preston and Blackpool, in August.

"Because of this, I have concluded that we ought to set a moratorium on fracking in England with instant effect".

Friends of the Earth chief executive Craig Bennett welcomed the suspension as a "tremendous victory for communities and the climate" but he too called for legislation to make it permanent.

"When fracking protestors went to jail, communities did not give up".

"This is a fantastic win for local democracy and everyone who cares about protecting the countryside from climate catastrophe and mass industrialisation".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's administration acted before campaigning for an General Election starts next week.

On hearing the announcement overnight, some said they would be "raising a glass" while others sounded a note of scepticism about the government's motive.

The decision followed widespread opposition to fracking - properly known as "hydraulic fracturing" - by environmental campaigners. "But we've always been clear we can only do that if it can be done safely and on the advice from the Oil and Gas Authority we're no longer convinced that is the case".

"It's been clear for some time that the Government's big bet on fracking is bust", it said.

"Opening up a new fossil fuel industry in this climate emergency was always an terrible idea, and it's only seemed worse as the industry has lurched from mishap to disaster".

"Opening up a new fossil fuel industry in this climate emergency was always an terrible idea, and it's only seemed worse as the industry has lurched from mishap to disaster", said Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace U.K.

But politicians from the opposition Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats warned that the government's reversal on fracking may be a temporary ploy to garner votes during the upcoming national vote.

Newsom argued the government's move should now help "unlock" onshore wind and solar power, as well as "ramp up" energy from offshore wind.

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