The former minister, Norman Baker, will call tomorrow for a shift away from fracking and towards renwables.
Mr Baker, the Lib Dem MP for Lewes in East Sussex, has chosen fracking for the topic of an adjournment debate after win last week’s ballot of MPs.
In a briefing this afternoon, Mr Baker said: The claims made for fracking have been exaggerated and downsides underplayed”.
He said fracking risked reducing investment in renewables. it also: “Presented a major challenge to efforts to tackle climate change, especially through methane emissions, but also through the extraction of shale oil, likely in the south east”.
Mr Baker also said fracking required “unacceptable quantities of fresh drinking water”, putting a strain on resources. It threatened protected areas and would leave the countryside pock-marked. He said it was losing public support, would generate large numbers of lorry movements on unsuitable roads and could not meet the claims made for it in terms of extraction rates.
Until earlier this month, Mr Baker was a Home Office minister. Before that he was a transport minister. He wrote about fracking on his blog just over a year ago, telling constituents he had “won assurance” from Chris Smith, then chair of the Environment Agency, that local water sources would be protected from pollutants from any frackng activities at Balcombe or elsewhere.
Since then, Mr Baker has not made any public statements on fracking, his office confirmed. Staff were not able to say why he was raising the issue now.