DrillOrDrop has compiled reaction to the government’s statement on a immediate moratorium on fracking. We have comments from community groups, campaigners, academics, politicians and the shale gas industry. Full report on the government statement
“Fantastic win for local democracy”
CPRE, deputy chief executive, Tom Fyans
“Today we celebrate alongside the local communities, campaigners and environmentalists who have been campaigning valiantly to stop fracking for many years. This is a fantastic win for local democracy and everyone who cares about protecting the countryside from climate catastrophe and mass industrialisation.
“CPRE was absolutely resolute in its opposition to policies proposed by the government to ‘fast-track’ fracking through the planning system, removing local people’s voices from the decision-making process. When calls were made to change the rules to allow fracking to continue, even when it caused ever bigger earthquakes, countryside campaigners said ‘no!’ We’ve long called for fracking to be stopped, and are thrilled that our messages have resonated finally.
“In a state of climate emergency, the decision to ban new fracking is absolutely essential but CPRE urges the next government to go even further with a range of policies that will help tackle the climate emergency. As the recently-confirmed host of COP26 in Glasgow in September 2020, the UK must become a genuine world leader in tackling the climate emergency.
“Further action must be taken to speed up our transition to renewable energies, and bring in steadfast policies to ensure a sustainable transition to zero carbon agriculture. Furthermore, we must restore our peatlands and essential soils and improve the energy efficiency of our existing homes through a retrofit strategy to bring down carbon emissions. Today’s announcement should signal the start of a step change in the way we tackle the climate emergency.”
“Make the ban permanent”
Friends of the Earth, chief executive Craig Bennett
“The government is right to call a halt to this damaging and deeply unpopular industry.
“This moratorium is a tremendous victory for communities and the climate. For nearly a decade local people across the country have fought a David and Goliath battle against this powerful industry. We are proud to have been part of that fight.
“We must now ensure that legislation is passed so that the ban is made permanent.
“But we can’t stop with banning fracking here if we are going to avoid catastrophic climate change. Time is running out; the UK must stop funding fracking abroad and we must leave all fossil fuels in the ground.
“The next government must accelerate the transition to a zero carbon economy by ending all support for oil, gas and coal development at home and abroad, and throwing its full weight behind the development of the UK’s vast renewable energy potential.”
“Lurched from mishap to disaster”
Greenpeace, head of politics, Rebecca Newsom
“It’s been clear for some time that the government’s big bet on fracking is bust. Opening up a new fossil fuel industry in this climate emergency was always an awful idea, and it’s only seemed worse as the industry has lurched from mishap to disaster.
Grassroots activists across the country deserve huge credit. If the Government reads the science and listens to the strong public opposition then fracking has no future. This lesson now needs to be applied to unlock onshore wind and solar, and significantly ramp up offshore wind. The focus must now be on delivering the net-zero carbon target.”
“Given we have not seen the report from the Oil and Gas Authority we cannot comment specifically. However, each site and geology is different and we will continue to work closely with the relevant regulators to demonstrate that we can operate safely and environmentally responsibly. As a highly experienced onshore operator in the UK we are confident in our ability to do so.
“Gas plays a significant role in providing energy to the UK, whether through heating over 80% of peoples’ homes or whether contributing c.50% to electricity generation. We currently import c.50% of that gas requirement.
“The UK Committee on Climate Change (“CCC”) in its May 2019 report clearly forecast a very significant UK gas demand out to 2050 and beyond – approximately 70 per cent of 2019 gas demand still existing in 2050 in a net zero scenario. Under the CCC’s recommended pathway to net zero CO2 this gas would be used as both a feedstock for making hydrogen and a backup supply for generating electricity and they have recommended that we use domestically produced gas. Without new supplies of gas it is expected that we will be importing over 80% of our gas requirements by 2050.
“As we have already announced, following interpretation of the cores at Springs Road in Nottinghamshire, we know that we have a significant recoverable gas resource in the Gainsborough Trough. Following interpretation of the cores taken across the 500m Shale horizon at Springs Road, we estimate that there is 630 Bcf of gas in place per square mile, and if applied to our entire acreage in the East Midlands, this would equate to 270 Tcf of high quality natural gas. At expected recovery rates, this would equate to satisfying up to 19 years of the UK’s gas demand giving this country both energy security for years to come as well as providing billions of pounds of investment into the East Midlands and the creation of thousands of skilled jobs.
“Our existing onshore conventional exploration and production business, with a 2P NPV10 of US$160m, is not impacted by the Government announcement.”
IGas has drilled (but not fracked) shale gas wells at Misson and Tinker Lane in north Nottinghamshire
- DrillOrDrop also invited Cuadrilla, Ineos, and the industry organisation, UKOOG to comment. We had no response but will update this article with any additional comments.
UK Onshore Oil & Gas (UKOOG), chief executive, Ken Cronin
“We have not yet seen the report from the Oil & Gas Authority and until a detailed analysis is undertaken, it is difficult to comment further.
“Hydraulic fracturing stimulation is a long-standing technology used around the world and in a number of industries, including the oil and gas, water and geothermal sectors.
“Going forward, we are fully committed to working closely with the Oil & Gas Authority and other relevant regulators to demonstrate that we can operate safely and environmentally responsibly.
“Given the size of the prize at stake – the significantly lower carbon footprint of domestic gas compared to imports and the significant investment the industry and the government have already made – we believe this is the right approach.
“Since shale gas exploration commenced in England we have confirmed a world-class resource. Flow testing and core sampling across Lancashire and North Nottinghamshire show that our high-quality indigenous gas can reach the surface, leaving the UK with no excuse to continue importing overseas gas that generates double the emissions and provides British workers, businesses and communities with no economic benefit.
“As the Committee on Climate Change has stated, there will be a significant need for natural gas in 2050, approximately 70% of our current consumption, to meet our future demand for hydrogen.
“The committee also reiterates in its Net Zero report something any climate change conscious government should pay heed to: it is essential that we do not simply offshore our emissions – and environmental responsibilities – to other countries”
Preston New Road Action Group, chairperson, Susan Holliday
“We cautiously welcome this news of a moratorium, but a total ban would have been even more welcome.
“The residents of Preston New Road have suffered a great deal over the last 3 years since Cuadrilla began work at the site. We will only feel able to celebrate once Cuadrilla start work on decommissioning and the site is restored.
“We have said all along that we have been Guinea Pigs for this process, and the experiment has failed just as it did in 2011 when the last moratorium was put in place, hopefully this time it will not be lifted.
“The tremors in August 2019 were felt by thousands of people; it must be clear from this that the Fylde coast is just not suitable for fracking. It must be a huge relief for those communities that are currently under the threat of planning applications for fracking, knowing that they will now no longer need to go through what we have.”
“We can have our lives back”
Preston New Road Action Group former chair, Pat Davies:
“After five years of enduring both the threat of fracking and actual fracking, it is a massive relief that the residents of Fylde will finally be rid of this toxic unwanted industry. Local democracy was overridden to impose this industry despite over 18,000 letters of objection. Many lives have been on hold and people have shown courage and strength in taking on the might of this industry. We said no and finally we are listened to. We can have our lives back! This ban ensures the health and well-being of people on Fylde and frees them from the multitude of threats this industry carries. Lancashire said no!
Preston New Road Action Group represents residents who live close to Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site, where fracking was suspended after a 2.9ML tremor on 26 August 2019.
“Not a moment too soon”
Frack Free Lancashire, Claire Stephenson
“Today’s announcement of the end of gratuitous government support for fracking is not a moment too soon.
“Residents are delighted that the fracking industry will no longer receive unlimited favours and free passes from a previously pro-fracking government. Our communities deserve to be put first before big business, and we have battled against this dirty industry for far too long.
“The Oil & Gas Authority have rightly stated that the industry has no ability to predict nor control, seismicity during and after fracking – this was evident after the property-damaging 2.9ML earthquake that hit the Fylde Coast on Bank Holiday Monday on August 23 2019.
“Our position, however, is unchanged: we believe that only an outright ban is appropriate to protect the residents and the communities they live in, and our campaign will actively continue until one is implemented. With all the other major parties now committed to an outright ban on fracking, the Conservatives are late to the party with their political equivocating over one of the most damaging industries to force themselves into our community.
“But today, we are celebrating and believe that the fracking industry in the UK is finished.”
Frack Free Ryedale, Adela Pickles
“Whilst I welcome the proposed ban, it cannot escape many people’s notice that many of the PEDL licences are in marginal seats – could the timing just before a general election be a cynical ploy by the Conservative Party to reassure voters? I would hate to think that all our years of hard work campaigning against fracking could help the Tories hold on to power!”
“We forced a government u-turn”
Frack Free South Yorkshire, David Burley and Dave Shaw
“For years we warned that UK shale gas production would not bring down energy prices, would not improve energy security and that it could not be done safely, putting buildings, environment and health at risk. At long last the government has understood and has declared ‘a moratorium on fracking until compelling new evidence is provided’.
“Clearly this is not a ban, it is a moratorium – temporary. The more cynically minded of us might point out the timing of the announcement is just before an election. But as we stand on the cliff edge of a climate emergency the UK must transition from fossil fuels to energy efficiency, cleaner cheaper renewable energy and energy storage with all speed. Hopefully there will be no need for shale gas in the future.
“For the time being, fracking is officially stopped. We forced a government u-turn and we stopped the richest capitalist in the UK. Not bad!”
Frack Free South Yorkshire has opposed drilling for shale gas by Ineos, owned by Jim Ratcliffe, at Harthill and Woodsetts.
“Dismantle pro-fracking legislation”
Frack Free United, Steve Mason
“This a very welcome announcement from the government. We will certainly be raising a glass to anti-fracking campaigners everywhere.
“It is a really great step in the right direction and we will be watching with interest in the next actions of all political parties. They must commit to the necessary action to dismantle the legislation backing fracking, and take the UK down a clean energy strategy.
“We also look forward to seeing the money that would have been spent on pushing fracking onto communities being used to support green energy, the police and the NHS.
“We will, however, be remaining vigilant and believe all forms of extreme fossil fuel extraction should be included in this de facto ban. Our call has always been for an immediate halt to fracking AND associated methods of unconventional oil and gas extraction in the UK, such as coal bed methane and acidisation.
“For us, it is clear that developing all forms of extreme extraction will result in unacceptable negative impacts on local communities, local democracy, energy security, jobs, the climate, health and the environment.
“All the political parties now have the opportunity in their manifestos to include the urgent need to develop an energy policy that will provide a clean vision for Britain, building on this great news from the government.”
“Communities left devastated”
Moss Alliance, Maureen Mills
“The toll this has taken on our lives is immeasurable. The industry is all about itself and its shareholders. Our communities are left physically and mentally drained and devastated. For what? Years of anguish, research, protest, tears and fears. Stopping this industry has always been our goal and our reasons are now being taken seriously. We hope. If we have to fight that battle again, we will. We hope we won’t need to.
“Alongside all the communities fighting this industry we have spent thousands of pounds in legal and experts’ fees. Funds raised from ordinary people like you and me. Those people who have researched the damage done by fracking worldwide before it has a chance to descend on our communities. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, too difficult to put into a few words. The relief, albeit temporary, is enormous.”
The Moss Alliance has opposed plans, before Lancashire County Council, by Aurora Resources Ltd to drill and frack two wells at Great Altcar, near Formby
“Cuadrilla should stop flow testing”
Dr Frank Rugman, resident near Preston New Road
“If the ban is permanent and enforced throughout the UK, then I would welcome this change of policy for the benefit of the environment, the climate and public health.
“If the ban is permanent and universal, then Cuadrilla should also be ordered to immediately cease flow-testing and flaring which continues to generate toxic gaseous emissions over the Fylde countryside.”
Eddie Thornton, Ryedale
“The timing of this announcement won’t be lost on anyone.
“It’s a cynical ploy to grease the wheels of Boris Johnson’s campaign bus. But it’s also a significant victory for communities up and down the country who have been fighting fracking for years.
“The Tories knew they would be crucified at the polls if they went into the election supporting fracking. Our communities are not going to rest. We will continue to campaign until we secure an outright ban and assurances in law that it won’t be the taxpayer left with the clean-up bill when fracking companies go bust.”
Eddie Thornton is seeking to bring a legal challenge against the Oil & Gas Authority over the sale of Third Energy.
“Does not cover other forms of well stimulation”
Brockham Oil Watch
“The Government’s announcement today to end its support for fracking is welcome news, but the moratorium covers only high volume hydraulic fracturing as defined by the Infrastructure Act 2015. It does not cover other forms of stimulation of oil and gas wells, including acid stimulation.
“We are calling on the government for 1) an amendment of the definition of fracking in the Infrastructure Act 2015 to include all well stimulation treatments which may enhance the productivity of oil and gas wells by increasing the permeability of the target rock, and 2) a ban on all well stimulation for oil and gas exploration and production.”
Brockham Oil Watch, based in Surrey, has launched a legal briefing today on the loopholes and ambiguities of regulation of acid stimulation in England.
“Moratorium on acid stimulation”
Weald Action Group, Sarah Finch
“Oil companies are set on a massive expansion of extraction with back to back wells using acid stimulation across the South East. This is already implicated in causing earthquakes in Surrey, and the environmental impacts will be unacceptable. The Tories should include that in their manifesto alongside the fracking moratorium”.
“Operators failed to obtain societal permission”
Emeritus professor Peter Styles
“It doesn’t come as a great surprise to me at this point in time, that UK Government has decided not to proceed with fracking (hydraulic stimulation to give it its Sunday name!) for shale gas because it is clear that the operators and the OGA to be honest, have failed to obtain societal permission for it .
“There are three pillars on which projects like this must stand:
- Is it technically feasible?
- Is it economically prudent?
- Will anyone let you?
“The jury is out on some of these and has passed judgment on others.
“The Bowland Shale exists offshore under Morecambe Bay/Irish Sea just as it does beneath Lancashire and if initial projects had recognised this and carried out investigations there, any induced seismicity might have been less inflammatory and more knowledge might have been gained and I suggested this as a possibility many times without it ever being given the time of day.
“No-one has made any money out of shale gas in the UK to date although a great deal has been spent and it seems very unlikely that it can be profitable under the strictures which the Traffic Light System (despite it being a very simplified version of what we suggested to DECC) has rightly placed it under. Even with this TLS in place, events of magnitude 2.9 ML have occurred and the OGA report is correct in stating that it is not possible to rule out greater magnitudes (even though these are small by global standards) despite numerical modelling by some which suggested that the maximum magnitudes would be unlikely to exceed 2 ML . The earth doesn’t know that you are modelling it and is no under no compunction to obey those conclusions!
“The third and final clincher though, is that the operators and the OGA and the government have not been able to obtain societal permission for this to go ahead onshore especially in the current political climate which questions the very underpinning of the fossil fuel agenda.”
Professor Styles advised David Cameron on regulation of fracking and wrote a report on fracking-induced seismicity
“UK rocks impossible to access without causing earthquakes”
Professor Stuart Haszeldine, School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh
“The Westminster government is absolutely correct to place a strongly worded moratorium on new attempts to undertake fracking in UK. It is also correct to require substantial new evidence to change that position – as the problem is inherent to the nature of earthquakes, which cannot be precisely predicted in timing, size, or location.
“One big earthquake could cause damage to thousands of buildings in tens of seconds. And the 23 October report by the National Audit office also made clear that liabilities for clearing up and decommissioning boreholes lie with landowners and local authorities, not with the drillers. And even is gas was discovered, that would not change the UK gas price. A case of all risk and no reward
“The frackers have been beaten by the nature they wished to exploit – and ignored the evidence from their own boreholes – which showed right from the first borehole in 2011 at Preece Hall in Lancashire, that UK rocks are like a finely balanced sleeping lion – which if poked too hard will bite back.
“Instead of designing new methods of fracking which could circumvent the sleeping lion by tiptoeing around it softly and gently – the frackers sought to continue with brute force. Whilst also shouting loudly that they had a solution. Unfortunately the sleeping lion did not listen, and bit back again, and again.
“In especially sensitive cases, the extra load needed to produce an earthquake can be very small – equivalent to the pressure of just two truck tyres, or 100 metres of water – less than the column of water used in drilling the borehole. Undertaking engineered fracking attempts to inject water underground at pressures up 100 times greater that these natural UK limits. Inevitably, earthquakes result.
“UK regulators have been misled for too long by overzealous gas drillers seeking easy profits from the UK. The drillers have now been beaten by their failure to understand the natural sub-surface environments they sought to exploit. Time and again, fracking companies in the UK have made incorrect interpretations of the geological rock layering and incorrect interpretations of what the earthquake evidence was telling them. Drillers have also hugely over claimed the amount of gas or oil which could be present. And drillers have continually been surprised by the number of geological faults in the UK – which 10 minutes inspecting a geological map could easily reveal.
“In more technical language – what fracking developers have failed to recognise is that the rocks in the UK are mechanically impossible to access without causing earthquakes. Measurements taken during many years in rocks of northern and southern England show that the rocks are naturally loaded to breaking point. This is because of the UK’s particular geological history, so that comparisons with similar rocks in the USA or Argentina are not relevant. Adding a small extra disturbance can cause the rocks to break, and the natural stress built up in these rocks during tens of thousands of years, is released instantly as an earthquake.”
“Tories owe public an apology”
Rebecca Long Bailey MP, shadow business and energy secretary
“Facing earthquakes, air pollution and climate breakdown, communities across the UK fought back hard against Tory efforts to roll out fracking on a massive scale.
“When the Tory government overruled local democratic decisions to halt fracking, communities did not give up. When fracking protestors went to jail, communities did not give up. And now they have forced the government to U-turn in their support for a dirty industry once described by Boris Johnson as ‘glorious news for humanity.’
“It is over eight years since fracking caused earthquakes near Blackpool. The Tories owe the public an apology, and an explanation of how much public money they wasted while ignoring the science.
“The next Labour government will ban fracking – whereas the Tories will only call a temporary halt to it. You can’t trust a word the Prime Minister says.”
Lib Dems back ban now
Former Liberal Democrat secretary of state for energy and climate change, Ed Davey
“A moratorium on fracking is welcome but it is not a ban. Liberal Democrats back an immediate ban now – given the evidence we are now in a climate emergency.
“The law Liberal Democrats passed to protect communities from earthquakes and seismic tremors caused by fracking has done a lot to prevent the Conservatives pressing ahead with fracking. It is not surprising to me that our brake has now led to this.
“But this belated, eve of election policy pause won’t distract voters from the Tories’ shocking record on the environment – not least the Prime Minister’s, when he lobbied to relax air pollution laws.
“With Johnson desperate to please his climate change denier friend, Donald Trump, we know that Brexit would see a bonfire of environmental regulations. The Tories are about as eco-friendly as a dustbin fire.
“This election gives the public an opportunity to vote for a brighter future. A Liberal Democrat government would declare a climate crisis and introduce a radical new programme of investment in clean, climate technology.”
North east Derbyshire Conservative MP, Lee Rowley
Lee Rowley opposes Ineos plans to explore for shale gas at Marsh Lane in his constituency
“Thanks for listening”
Fylde Conservative MP Mark Menzies
“This is a necessary decision and one which I called for when I met with the OGA and minister over recent weeks, following the 2.9ML seismic event. I called for the cessation of fracking as it was crystal clear shale gas could not be extracted safely.
“I would like to thank the minister and the OGA for listening to the concerns of my constituents.
“This has come about due to the stringent regulations and transparency we had put in place, and which I fought for from day one of this industry.
“When the Labour Government awarded the licences for hydraulic fracturing in Lancashire, they did so with no specific regulatory framework in place.
“Since then, I called for a gold standard of regulation and the traffic light warning system, and various other checks and measures were brought in; it is those checks and measures which the Government and experts have used to make an informed decision over the safety of the industry.
“I would like to thank the Government and the regulator for looking at all of the science and the data, and acting in the best interests of people in Fylde.”
“Considered approach to a geological problem”
Thirsk and Malton Conservative MP, Kevin Hollinrake
“As I’ve always said, we should be led by the science. Now that the Oil & Gas Authority have stated that they cannot predict or rule out significant induced seismicity and damage to property, it has to be the right move to declare a moratorium.
“Given the timing, some will say that this is politically motivated, but given we took virtually the identical decision following a smaller ‘quake at Preese Hall in 2011, I think it is actually more a considered approach to a geological problem with exploration.”
“No regulation can assure safety of shale gas”
Green Party MEP for north-west England, Gina Dowding
“We are delighted that the government has finally accepted the position that the Green Party and anti-fracking protesters have had from the outset.
“Principally, there is no level of regulation that is capable of assuring the safety of this industry. More critically, there is no place for a new fossil fuel in a climate emergency, when all the evidence points to the need to move swiftly to a zero-carbon energy supply.
“Local people will be hugely relieved following years of havoc this industry has wreaked upon their communities: and more than a few people will rest easier at night knowing that the risk of seismic tremors has gone.
“This decision will give cheer to young people, climate strikers and those who understand the need to move to clean, green and cheap renewables, and I think this will be an occasion of real celebration for the hundreds of thousands of people have been involved in the anti-fracking campaign, who have helped to highlight the costs and risks associated with hydraulic fracturing.
“It was clear from the start that there is no place for fracking in a 21st-century energy plan.
“All that remains now is for this moratorium to become a complete ban.
“However, I’m surprised to see Andrea Leadsom still talking about the need for gas in a zero-carbon economy in 2050 – she mentions gas as a source of hydrogen. She is clearly behind the science again; it is clear that green hydrogen is already being produced from electrolysis of water using renewable energy but that’s a debate for another day.”
“Congrats to campaigners”
Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas
“Extend the ban to unconventional oil and gas extraction methods”
Surrey Greens, Cllr Jonathan Essex
“The ban needs to be extended to the unconventional oil and gas extraction methods used in the Weald, which carry the same earthquake risks and other risks from methods involving acid stimulation. In Surrey the county council has just approved a huge expansion of oil production at Horse Hill, which has been linked to earthquakes even though the regulator doesn’t recognise a link.
“Earlier this year I gave evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on the impact of shale gas about how activities at Horse Hill had been ignored in assessing the cause of the Surrey swarm of earthquakes which are having a huge impact here. There was another one just yesterday.
“And as well as earthquake risks, the government needs to act on climate risk – which means leaving all fossil fuels in the ground. They need to listen to the climate science as well as geologists. It’s time for a move away from fossil fuels and a switch to renewable energy, not a kick start for a new oil industry in the Weald.”
“Together we will ban fracking in America too”
Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders