Government advisors have told the new prime minister the UK can’t rely on shale gas to solve the cost-of-living crisis.
In a letter to Liz Truss, published today, the Climate Change Committee and the National Infrastructure Commission said:
“The UK cannot address this crisis solely by increasing its production of natural gas.
“Greater domestic production of fossil fuels may improve energy security, particularly this winter. But our gas reserves – offshore or from shale – are too small to impact meaningfully the prices faced by UK consumers.”
The organisations called for policies to reduce wasted energy and to boost cheap, secure low carbon production in the UK.
The letter, signed by the CCC’s chair, Lord Deben, and Sir John Armitt, chair of the NIC, said:
“Energy security and reducing the UK’s exposure to volatile fossil fuel prices requires strong policies that reduce energy waste across the economy and boost domestic production of cheap and secure low carbon energy.”
They recommended the government should:
- Invest now in energy efficiency in buildings to reduce wasted energy
- Provide and promote a comprehensive energy advice service
- Deliver a working market-based mechanism for low-carbon heat
- Make full use of new auctions for onshore wind and solar
- Deliver updated national policy statements for energy and resolve barriers to deployment of strategic energy infrastructure
“There is an opportunity in the coming months to deliver policies which will drive a recovery that secures a long-term advantage for the UK. By doubling down on efforts to end our dependence on gas we can lower consumer energy costs and make meaningful contributions towards combatting climate change.”
Media reports have suggested that perhaps as early as this week Liz Truss’s administration will lift the moratorium on fracking.
This has been in place since November 2019 after fracking induced earthquakes at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site.
There have also been repeated calls from the shale gas industry for a relaxation of the seismicity rules on fracking and removal of shale gas planning applications from local authority control.
Critics of shale gas have argued that production will not get underway quickly enough to help soaring bills this winter, or even next. There are no active shale gas sites in the UK and no current planning permissions for fracking.
The new prime minister has said there should be a “clear public consensus” behind shale gas. But there is currently no indication of how this would be measured.