Politics

Liz Truss to lift fracking moratorium

The prime minister has given the go-ahead to fracking in England.

Image: Parliament TV

The moratorium, which has been in place since 2019, will be lifted.

Opening a parliamentary debate on energy this morning, Ms Truss said fracking would be allowed where local communities supported it.

She told the House of Commons:

“It is vital that we take steps to increase our domestic supplies of energy

“We will end the moratorium on extracting our huge reserves of shale, which could get gas flowing as soon as six months from now where there is local support for it.”

Hansard report of debate

She gave no details of how support would be demonstrated or whether fracking would be fast-tracked through the planning system. There was no indication of whether the moratorium had actually been lifted. A government spokesperson later said the moratorium would be lifted “imminently”.

Earlier in her speech, Ms Truss said:

“This is the moment to be bold”.

“Energy policy had not focussed enough on securing supply”, she said. This had left the country vulnerable to volatile markets, she said. This should not happen again”, she said.

She said she was setting a new ambition for the country:

“We will make sure that the UK is a net energy exporter by 2040.”

At the start of the debate, the House of Commons speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, said he was disappointed that a Written Ministerial Statement setting out government plans had not been published earlier. It was only just available. This is a discourteous to the house, he said.

Image: Parliament TV

Responding to the prime minister’s announcements, the Labour leader, Kier Starmer, said:

“Fracking and a dash for gas in the North sea will not cut bills, nor strengthen our energy security, but they will drive a coach and horses through our efforts to fight the looming climate crisis.”

Sir Kier quoted comments made in March 2022 by the then business secretary, now chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng.

Mr Kwarteng said at the time:

“Even if we lifted the fracking moratorium tomorrow, it would take up to a decade to extract sufficient volumes – and it would come at a high cost for communities and our precious countryside.

“Second, no amount of shale gas from hundreds of wells dotted across rural England would be enough to lower the European price any time soon.

“And with the best will in the world, private companies are not going to sell the gas they produce to UK consumers below the market price.”

There have been media reports that fracking could begin within weeks.

But there are currently no sites in England with planning permissions for fracking or drilling for shale gas. See our review of the past decade of fracking.

The moratorium was imposed on 2 November 2019 on after fracking at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool induced earthquakes.

The industry regulator, then called the Oil & Gas Authority, concluded that it was not possible with current technology to predict accurately whether fracking would cause tremors and how big they would be.

The government said at the time:

“Fracking will now be paused unless and until further evidence is provided that it can be carried out safely here.”

Later that month, the Conservative’s 2019 general election manifesto said:

“We will not support fracking unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely.”

Yesterday, Liz Truss’s press officer told journalists the manifesto “still stands in full”.

There was no information in the prime minister’s speech about whether the science has changed.

A review of the science of fracking, commissioned by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), was delivered in early July. It has not yet been published. The prime minister’s statement did not refer to it but BEIS said later that the review, by the British Geological Survey, would be published “imminently”.

Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in February 2022. Photo: Maxine Gill

High volume hydraulic fracturing has taken place at only three wells, all operated by Cuadrilla in Lancashire (at Preston New Road in 2018 and 2019 and at Preese Hall in 2011). All the fracks induced earthquakes.

A shale gas well has been drilled at Misson in Nottinghamshire but it has not been fracked and no longer has planning permission.

No shale gas produced in England has been supplied to homes and business in the past decade.

Fracking has not received majority support at any point in the past decade.

A poll by Survation this week found that 34% supported gas from onshore fracking while 45% opposed.

Other announcements

The prime minister also announced:

  • Energy bills capped for two years with an average cost of £2,500 a year
  • This is in addition to the £400 energy bill support scheme
  • Support for businesses, charities and public sector organisations
  • Fiscal statement to set out expected costs later this month
  • Created a new energy supply task force.
  • Negotiating new contracts with electricity and gas suppliers
  • New licensing round for North Sea extraction, which could lead to 100 new licences
  • Speed up deployment of new renewable technologies
  • Review of energy regulation
  • Pro-business/pro-growth delivery of Net Zero

She said the would be no windfall tax.

Reaction here

35 replies »

  1. Still nothing about the quickest and easiest solution – widespread energy efficiency. Perhaps it doesn’t put enough money into rich people’s pockets.

  2. But what has changed in the faulted geology of the Fylde ?
    Why has the April 22, BGS report to government, not been published for independent expert scrutiny?
    Did this report really state that fracking in a faulted area could be carried out safely ?

  3. Before we start to ” jump the gun ” we need to take a step back and look what had been promised by Ms Truss .

    Fracking would ONLY go ahead in areas where it had been approved by the local community. If we take Ms Truss on her word.

    Fracking is NOT going to happen ANYWHERE then .

        • Again using American news – I’ll give you a clue, this island isn’t America! There are specific regulations in the UK, that are not adhered to in America…. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH, AND STOP USING ‘CANCER FRACKING’ SEARCH ENGINE, CLICK! DOH!

          • WOW , ELI-GOTH

            It appears you need JACK to help you join up the very simple dots.

            Fracking is Fracking no matter where you do it.

            NOW in the USA , Fracking has been shown to be disastrous for the climate and the environment, disastrous for human and animal health and disastrous for house price values.

            BUT worse still and here is the punch line…… Our geology in NOT suitable for Fracking in any safe and meaningful quantities.

            AND our small island is far more densely populated than the USA , which means there will be FAR MORE people living in close proximity to a Fracking site

            Causing FAR more problems.

            DOH , ELI-GOTH

            • Ahh, so electricity distribution in UK will cause forest fires, the loss of property and death, because that is what a search engine will show in USA!! I could supply a link to the Texas Wildfire Mitigation Project and many more.

              So, why is any search engine working then, Jack? Surely electricity distribution should have stopped a long while ago?

              Absolute nonsense, but that is what search engines can be used for. Shame really when they can also educate. Interesting choice between the two.

              I did note a report some while ago referring to the sophisticated use of the Internet by the antis! Oh dear, Jack, if you are it, then someone has some strange ideas about sophistication.

              • MARTIN ,

                Forest fires, loss of property and death . Your really stretching the boundaries of one’s imagination .

                You’ve really lost me on this one mate .

                • No, I haven’t Jack. You know exactly what I mean. Plonk a particular reference into a search engine and what do you get? A particular answer. University lecturers fight that battle at the start of each intake. Then they tell the offenders to repeat the work, and they get better results.

                  If I plonk in: “The link between power lines and wildfires in USA” then I find loads of stuff, including what I have stated. Dangerous stuff, this electricity!

                  But electricity is still there and amongst other things allows you to do exactly the same thing. Hopefully, as schools get better at teaching pupils how to use the Internet, University lecturers will not have to fight this battle so much. I fear your approach is fast approaching being redundant, Jack. More Dino Saur than Jack the Lad.

                • No MARTIN ,

                  It’s not for the readers to try and locate your nonsense on Google.

                  Although if they wish to , it might be worth them typing the word ” gibberish ” in their search engine , what they get will be close to what your saying.

                  Come on MARTIN , your among friends here , don’t be frightened, give us a LINK to click on to mate.

                • I gave the link Jack. What is your problem? Are you only allowed to use a search engine for particular uses?

                  Looks like it.

                  Good job the rest of humanity, if interested in a subject, can take a bit of time to do some research. Probably around 30 seconds. Shame for you Jack that is that case, that individuals can also check and observe Chesapeake Energy is pretty well supported by the actual experts, the share price reflects that confidence, and what the “normal” world oil price really looks like prior to US fracking and subsequent to it.
                  (Being such a helpful soul, and recognizing you have issues of access Jack, you would have found over 4000 wildfires were attributed in a 3.5 year period in Texas to power line problems, reported from the Texas Wildfire Mitigation Project. California can produce some even more disturbing data. Yet, Jack can still benefit from electricity.)

                  Sorry Jack, your denial is irrelevant. The facts are not.

                • MARTIN ,

                  I’m SORRY to see that you are having difficulty understanding the word ” LINK ” some of these words in the English language can be so DAMN complicated .

                  No need to worry, your old buddy JACKS here to help you understand.

                  Now this is a ” LINK ” the words highlighted in RED …. Just try clicking on it MARTIN , it has some great information about how living close to a Fracking site increases the risk of LEUKEMIA in CHILDREN 2 – 3 TIMES.

                  Isn’t that terrible MARTIN ?????.? Maybe you would like to say something about that to the forum members. Your thoughts please MARTIN ???????

                  https://www.webmd.com/children/news/20220818/leukemia-rates-2-3-times-higher-in-kids-near-fracking#:~:text=Aug.,leukemia%2C%20a%20new%20study%20says.

                  You’ve NEVER put a ,” LINK ” up on this forum and I challenge you to prove otherwise .

                • So, you really are that lazy, Jack? Or, you are that restricted.

                  What do I think about health risks? That children in the DRC are handling a known carcinogen, cobalt, with their bare hands to provide people with their EVs which they can pontificated about at their dinner parties where they are scoffing food covered in air miles?

                  It really is a disgrace, Jack.

                  But, then there are previous comments from you that appear to show a one eyed approach to children in the DRC.

                  You define link in your own way, Jack. I have linked (OED: means of connection) you to a topic, and detailed exactly how to find the information. If you can’t then sorry, but “F”.

                  This is the umpteenth time that you have tried to use your failure to be able to do the simplest research as someone else’s problem. It is not, Jack, it is simply page 2 or 3 in the deflection manual. You should stop insulting the readers of DoD, most can see through contrived technique in place of substance.

                • MARTIN

                  Ladies and Gentlemen please take note …….. MARTIN clearly demonstrates he has no , I repeat NO interest in the health and safety of you or your families living here in the UK.

                  When questioned about Leukemia being 3 TIMES higher in children living in close proximity to Fracking sites , he replies with his usual default setting , talking about people mining rare earth minerals in DRC .

                  THINK ABOUT THIS , for someone who says they are living in the Uk , they have NO INTEREST in the health of UK citizens…….. MARTIN ONLY cares about people living in far , FAR off places , namely the DRC.

                  Are you living in the DRC MARTIN ???????

                  I ask because you ONLY have an interest in the people living there.

                  ONCE AGAIN , I fully expose MARTINS FEAR of putting up a ” LINK ” Ladies and Gentlemen just take a read at the laughable excuses , he’ll say or do anything not to put a ” LINK ” on this forum. It’s quite comical really .

                  MARTIN , Let me show you again, this is a ” LINK ” just click on the RED words.

                  https://www.usnews.com/news/special-reports/energy-of-tomorrow/articles/2014/12/05/fracking-linked-to-infertility-miscarriages-birth-defects

                  What are your thoughts on this MARTIN , it links Fracking to, Infertility, Miscarriages and Birth Defects ????????

              • Anyway MARTIN ,

                I’m going to suggest a truce today .

                I’m sure like myself , you will be mourning the loss of our great queen , Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

                My sincere condolences to the Royal Family , my thoughts and prayers are with you .

          • You’re right there Eli Goth. This island isn’t America. It’s tiny in proportion to the US, far more densely populated and with a far less suitable geology. As far as specific regulations are concerned, the regulators in this country have been so depleted of funds and manpower, a certain Ms Truss had a hand in that, that companies such as Cuadrilla were allowed to just send in reports and ‘mark their own homework’. We only have to witness the dreadful state of sewage disposal in this country judge just how ‘gold standard’ the regulation is.

              • Gold standard regulation is gold standard regulation – or in the case of this country with it’s ever reducing support of regulators and cutting of ‘red tape’ -not gold standard at all. Ahem.

              • So sewage management at the EA is a different department and seemingly by design: underfunded, virtually non-existent, inept, neutered and largely self regulated by the mercenary privatised water companies. How do you envisage the regulation of fracking panning out differently under the same management board Eli?

    • Depends on what “local community” means and how the “local community” is surveyed. There may be some surprises (to most DOD readers). Everyone in the defined area should be encouraged to comment for or against. And no outsiders.

      • That is a very good point PT: There are very few locals to Preston New Road, there have been visits and tourists from Aberdeen to Bristol travelling to LOCAL protests at PNR. ‘Local’ is just that, ‘Local Community Support’ if the government would offer a reduction of energy bills in those area’s its a guarantee that fracking support would be unanimous!

          • Hi John,
            How’s defend lytham getting on?, it’s funny a lot of locals while protests were ongoing at PNR, motorists going to a tax paying job as opposed, spending dole money on benefits protesting at a site for several weeks. Funny we gripe and fund these people with the very taxes the energy industry pays the treasury, to pay their camping gas, cigs and booze!

          • Depends on definition of affected. A bed moving? Mine does that when I turn over. It also does the same when an HGV drives past. Most of them are milk tankers. I quite like milk, others want to protest about it. Same issue. I recall visiting a remote rural property in the S.West and every evening at the same time their windows rattled. It was Concorde de-accelerating as it approached from the Atlantic. The residents then just checked their clocks to see if they were correct, yet many wished to protest about that. Perhaps the answer is just less protesting?

            Quite an interesting exercise. I suppose if one really wanted to do it properly, then one would need to give greater weighting to the most local-like the landowner! That would go down well, cries of financial benefit. Except, that is exactly what has been applied to get on shore wind turbines “accepted”, so that might be difficult to argue. So, being proposed to spread the financial benefit. I suspect in reality there might be more of an issue with those who are just outside of the boundary protesting about missing out.

    • The govt effectively banned onshore wind by allowing just one local objection to stop it. What’s to say they won’t turn that round for fracking and allow it with just one local supporter? I’m sure they’ve already thought about the easiest way to justify permissions, but I expect we’ll be the last to hear the devil in the detail. Anyone with the remotest concern about climate change impacts can only be against completely new sources of fossil fuels to extend and increase their use.

      • Sorry Mike. I am not one of the anyones.

        I can look at the weekly rig counts in USA and see how they have been rising steadily. I can look at the numbers of cargoes of LNG being shipped across the Atlantic and I can do some research into the energy efficiency of all of that, and the environmental impact. No use is being extended, it is being supplied from farther afield. In the case of UK the ambition is to cut that out and supply locally. What will happen to US rig counts? Probably still carry on being high as other countries are less able to do what UK can and will still create a demand for export, but UK can only control what it is able to control.

        Anyone with the remotest interest in climate change should try and source locally. But not from Putin.

        • No need to apologise for not having the remotest concern about climate change impacts Martin. Some people are always going to prioritise short term gain for the few over the future of life on earth, particularly old, relatively affluent ones.

          • I suggest you actually read what you are replying to, Mike. Otherwise, it looks as if it is you who is just wanting to state something that is remote from the reality.

            Surely not? Or maybe.

            My steak I cooked last night was delicious. The local butcher had fully detailed where it had been produced, just a few miles away from me. Unfortunately, the gas I cooked it with did not have the same assurance of local sourcing. I would prefer that it did. Whereas the reality is that your preference is that it doesn’t. Strangely, (lol) my local Green Councillor stuffs leaflets through my door every few weeks advocating local sourcing and the issue of food miles. Why? Because it is supposed to help against climate change. Me, being a poor young fella , believe that on the rare occasion I can afford a steak, I should support my local butcher and farmer as the tax they pay (a lot, looking at the price) goes to UK, and I help the environment at the same time. Perhaps I could afford more steaks if more people were doing the same thing, and then I would not be burdened with tax to cover the revenue that was being diverted over the horizon? A lot of it Mike when gas in USA was $7 per MMBtu in July but when converted to LNG, sent across the Atlantic and converted back, it was $47 per MMBtu. No wonder I am not affluent, when contributing to that.

            Guess who is affluent, still? Russia!

            Meanwhile, some are fiddling away while some cities burn, and others are about to freeze, aren’t they Mike.

            • I said ‘Anyone with the remotest concern about climate change impacts can only be against completely new sources of fossil fuels to extend and increase their use.’
              You said ‘Sorry Mike. I am not one of the anyones.’
              Ergo, no need to apologise for not having the remotest concern about climate change impacts Martin. Some people are always going to prioritise short term gain for the few over the future of life on earth, particularly old, relatively affluent ones.
              Looks clear enough to me.
              After so many years [edited by moderator], I gave up on anything but a cursory glace of your posts long ago.

              • Oh clear, Mike. But, as usual, just an assumption to manufacture a false narrative. A false narrative as your assumptions were incorrect.
                Perhaps with more than a cursory glance you could have commented a little more accurately?

                Meanwhile, I am not affluent, and even less so recently whilst paying out monthly for three young loved ones to help with their costs of energy. I would suggest being careful with ageism. You may find there are a lot of younger people who are really struggling with energy costs, and are seeing that as the biggest concern for the future of their life on earth. The older ones saw it in the 1970s, so have some experience in managing. Experience they gained from others having led them up the wrong path, Mike, and failing on energy security. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

                • Interesting read Jack and entirely logical to anyone other than those still scraping for short term profit who can’t focus beyond the pile of cash.

  4. Lifting the moratorium on Fracking has very little to do with energy policy. It is a settling of scores by those still irritated that oddly dressed peaceniks with home made banners actually succeeded in their campaign.

    Since the wildly optimistic estimate of shale gas reserves were heralded by the BGS, there has been no Exploration or Appraisal of any significance that actually puts numbers behind the available gas. If wholesale prices remain sky high then new Operators and License Holders might wish to take a punt and try to cash in. But if energy prices are to be “capped”, the enthusiasm to speculate on behalf of the Government ‘s drive for Energy Security is unlikely to gain traction.

    All the majors are already invested in the North Sea. It is here that significant new supplies will come. There is no local community to upset.

    The real issue is the new policy is not at all concerned about the use of fossil fuels. I can’t help thinking that lifting the moratorium is a diversionary tactic, encouraged by the Oil and Gas Industry. Get all the Protesters gathered together in remote country lanes while the serious stuff goes on elsewhere.

    Nevertheless, I will be in that Country Lane.

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