The government will publish the review of scientific evidence on fracking and decide on the next steps “in due course”, the energy minister Greg Hands said this week.
The authors, from the British Geological Survey (BGS), had been asked to look at new developments, including those that would reduce the risk and magnitude of seismic events.
This follows some pressure on ministers to lift the moratorium on fracking in England, in force since November 2019.
In a parliamentary answer, Mr Hands (pictured centre) said:
“The Government has now received the report, which is under careful review, and will make any decisions on the next steps in due course.”
He was responding to a question from the shadow energy minister, Chi Onwurah (pictured left) about the social impact of fracking.
In a separate question, she asked when the BGS review would be published and whether evidence used in the review would be released.
Mr Hands referred her to a written answer to Labour’s Catherine West (pictured right) he gave earlier this month.
In this, he said:
“This review has now been completed and the Government is considering their detailed and technical report. This report will be published in due course. The Government’s policy remains unchanged.”
The government ordered the moratorium on fracking in England following a series of small earthquakes caused by operations at Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road in Lancashire. Ministers said it was not possible to predict accurate whether fracking would cause earthquakes and how big they would be.
In his written answer to Ms West, Greg Hands added:
“In 2019, the Government confirmed that the pause on the exploration of shale gas reserves in England would remain in place unless and until further evidence was provided that shale gas extraction could be carried out safely. Any exploration or development of shale gas would need to meet rigorous safety and environmental protections both above ground and sub-surface.”
Shortly after the 2019 moratorium was imposed, the then business secretary, Andrea Leadsom, made a written ministerial statement to parliament.
Parliament is now in recess until 5 September 2022. The replacement to Boris Johnson as prime minister and Conservative party leader is expected to be known by that date.