Politics

Government says people living near fracking sites should tolerate more risk and disturbance in the national interest

The UK government formally lifted the moratorium on fracking in England this morning.

Campaigners outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road near Blackpool, 26 August 2019. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

In a Written Ministerial Statement, the business secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, said it was in the national interest for people living and working near fracking sites to “tolerate a higher degree of risk and disturbance”.

He suggested the government would review the regulations on fracking-induced earthquakes.

He also said ministers would look to better support the shale gas industry, “from initial exploration to large-scale production”.

More shale gas sites were needed, he said. The North Sea Transition Authority and other regulators should be “proactive in extending existing consents and permissions where practicable, to support the development of energy resources in the National interest”.

Fracking in England was halted in November 2019 after the government concluded that induced earthquakes were difficult to control and predict.

A review of fracking science by the British Geological Survey, commissioned by the government, has also been published.

It concluded that forecasting large earthquakes and their expected magnitude remained a scientific challenge.  More on this soon on DrillOrDrop.

The prime minister announced on 8 September 2022 that the moratorium i, England would be lifted. But the details were delayed because of the death of Queen Elizabeth.

Mr Rees-Mogg said today much had changed since the moratorium was imposed in 2019. He said:

“Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting restrictions on gas supply to Europe have impacted on global energy prices and the energy security of our neighbours and allies. This emphasises the need for ‘home grown’ sources of energy to reduce our reliance on imports.

He said the government remained committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. But the UK needed oil and gas to get there. He said:

“HM Government considers it appropriate to pursue all means for increasing UK gas production, including shale gas extraction. The Government is therefore lifting the pause on shale gas extraction and will consider future applications for Hydraulic Fracturing Consent with the domestic and global need for gas, and local support for developments, in mind.”

The business secretary said:

” While HM Government will always try to limit disturbance to those living and working near to sites, tolerating a higher degree of risk and disturbance appears to us to be in the national interest given the circumstances described above.

“With this in mind, it is important that the policy relating to shale gas extraction reflects this. HM government will be reviewing this aspect of shale gas policy as part of a wider reflection on how to better support the industry throughout the whole life cycle of the investment, from initial exploration to large scale production.

“We will look to the North Sea Transition Authority and other licensing authorities to be proactive in extending existing consents and permissions where practicable, to support the development of energy resources in the National interest.

“It is clear that we need more exploratory sites in order to gather better data and improve the evidence base and we are aware that some developers are keen to assist with this process. We look forward to seeing these proposals in detail.”

The statement also said the government would offer 100 new offshore oil and gas licences.

Opponents of fracking have vowed to fight the industry. Yesterday, a founder of Cuadrilla Resources, told the Guardian , fracking would be impossible at any meaningful scale in the UK and would not help the energy price crisis.

This morning, Claire Stephenson, of Frack Free Lancashire, said:

“Fracking is a failed technology in the UK and should absolutely be confined to the past. We’ve witnessed more than 10 years of attempts to jack gas out of the ground in Lancashire, with no progress. There have, however, been uncontrollable earthquakes and structural damage – almost 200 reported claims.

“There’s also been colossal methane leaks, community disharmony, and most notably: zero commercial gas produced.

“We’re in a climate crisis with a desperate need for a clean, green energy future. Fracking will not make any positive impact on the UK’s energy needs or fuel bills, and any attempt to suggest it will, is blatant spin.

 “For the government to use the tragic situation in Ukraine as an excuse to allow a risky and fruitless procedure to go ahead where it has repeatedly failed, and with Jacob Rees-Mogg’s belief that communities “must tolerate a higher degree of risk and disturbance” for “the national interest” is an appalling trade-off.

“We stand strongly opposed and united against fracking anywhere, and we will fiercely challenge this misguided administration’s attempt to backtrack on their Conservative Manifesto promise.”

Susan Holliday, of the Preston New Road Action Group, which opposed Cuadrilla’s operations said:

“The BGS report concludes that forecasting seismic events is a ‘challenge’. “Based on this how can anyone say that fracking can be done safely? 

“The science does not appear to have changed since the moratorium was put in place in 2019, neither has the geology in Lancashire. The WMS says that there is a need for more exploratory sites to gather data, which means that a number of new communities will become fracking guinea pigs. It seems very short sighted to be resurrecting the fracking industry which will also impact on Climate Change when we could be focusing more on renewable technologies”.

Earlier this month, the prime minister said fracking would need clear public consent to go ahead.

This morning, Mark Menzies, the Conservative MP for Fylde, which includes Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road, site, asked in the House of Commons how community consent for fracking would be demonstrated.

Mr Rees-Mogg replied:

“We want to work with local communities.

“It is up to the companies to come up with packages that will make what they are proposing look attractive”.

Labour’s energy spokesperson, Ed Miliband, said his party would “hang these broken promises around the neck of the government between now and the next general election”.

More detail

Reaction to the announcement

Tory anger at lifting the moratorium – what MPs said in parliament

“Significant knowledge gaps” makes forecasting fracking earthquakes “a scientific challenge”, says BGS report

33 replies »

  1. I live near dorchester near where fracking was planned and delayed again by local council , i support it as i do restitution of Nuclear Winfrith and convetional oil and gas onshore offshore Dorset

    The gid as of today – solar and wind will not alone supply energy needs for UK espeically during winter . We should do all we can to make the most of oil and gas transitionally until hydrogen and nuclear incl modular and geo thermal can take up the slack and eventually replace oil and gas . But being 54 , i dont believe the transtion fully happen in my lifetime

    • I respect your honesty and opinion, but what sort of world will the children and grand children of a 54 year old inherit if we continue extracting and burning fossil fuels? To achieve net zero, a legal obligation, gas use must be drastically reduced by 2030 and used with CCS. There is sound scientific reason for this. And if we are to avoid global climate breakdown, we already have more fossil fuels available to us than we can safely burn.
      Numerous industry experts have repeatedly stated that fracking will not lower energy costs and will do little in the way of improving energy security. Fact checking the industry’s own figures worked out at fracking providing less than 5% of U.K. gas consumption in five years.
      The roll out of renewables will increase considerably in the next few years, there will be more nuclear in time and with better energy efficiency we can make significant savings, have cleaner energy and better energy security. And I hope you will see it your life time. 😊

  2. The government should thoroughly investigate the use of geothermal power instead of trying to kick start fracking again..geothermal power is used in other European countries,and importantly it is sustainable and isn’t dependent on the weather..

    Cllr Roger Lloyd FBC

    • Yes, Roger, and fracking is done to make it work properly-including in the UK.

      There are also other European countries which have had real problems with it.

  3. The issue is that there are a lot of scary stories, in which those who know how to ‘google’! Re-hash the same, Currently we import Gas from the Americas and Australia!! These are deemed acceptable by those who want to complain, and support Carbon Net Zero UK, but are happy fro other countries to supply our energy needs! Renewable’s do not ‘currently’ fill the gap, or supply all the needs from an all out for energy requirements! Nuclear to be honest is Decades away!

  4. I accept local disturbance and risk in the national interest, when new housing is constructed. I receive no financial incentive whilst that happens or after the event. I am not in need of that new housing either.

    UK gas production is something I use, and will provide financial incentive to all in UK, some locals more so.

    Perhaps I should lie down to stop the JCBs building new houses?

  5. Maybe we should stop exporting so much of our gas?
    excerpt from ONS :-
    European countries have taken advantage of the discounted price of UK wholesale gas (NBP) compared with the European price (TTF). This gas is also being used to refill storage facilities ahead of the autumn and winter. This European demand for gas and the UK’s regasification infrastructure has contributed to the UK’s exports of gas increasing 185% from 2020 to 2021, reaching record levels of exports in April 2022.

    • At the same time the Government lifts the ban………

      “Fracking won’t work in UK” says founder of fracking company Cuadrilla.

      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/sep/21/fracking-wont-work-uk-founder-chris-cornelius-cuadrilla

      They claim to have the experience to back up that statement.

      Off their own website,

      ‘Members of Cuadrilla’s management team have each played leading roles in the drilling and/or hydraulic fracturing of more than 3,000 natural gas and oil wells across the world.’

      • “Fracking won’t work in UK” says founder of fracking company Cuadrilla.

        It would therefore suggest at Liz and Jacob have not been talking to Cuadrilla.

      • Rubbish, jP. The guy hasn’t worked for Cuadrilla for 10 years! Moggy made quite clear that view is not currently held.

        Same nonsense almost word for word that was attempted in HoC today. If you all want to use the same attack line, maybe check it first? I will need to take account of the manager who worked at my local club 10 years ago? Don’t think so.

        As for I’m alright KatT, then all new housing local to me contain gas central heating, so any legacy of that energy source is shared. Perhaps stop others breeding and immigration so new housing is not needed. I live in the real world where both will continue.

        • The ‘guy’ may not have worked for Cuadrilla for 10 years but he must have a fair knowledge of the industry, being the founder of the company. I imagine he certainly has far more experience and knowledge of what is and isn’t viable in the business than the sneering Mr Rees Mogg.

    • Maybe we would Dianna if Putin was not Putin, and other European countries had built their own LNG terminals.

    • Dianna Jones, I am pleased to see that you acknowledge prices are set on local trading hubs, rather than the misleading and inaccurate claim of a global set price for gas.

      The clue to the reason why the UK is showing a large increase in gas export volumes is in the words “regasification infrastructure.” The UK holds the second largest LNG import and regasification infrastructure in Europe (largest is in Spain).

      The UK has and continues to act
      as a gateway for gas entering European pipeline systems, in order to help meet the demand during this crisis , as countries move away from importing Russian gas.

      LNG imports into the UK increased by almost 50% in quarter 1 2022, reaching the highest level recorded in over a decade. In comparison UK gas production only increased by 5% during the same period.

      It’s clearly not UK produced gas that’s accountable for the increase in exports, it’s fracked gas from the USA, the country which has provided the largest amount of the imported LNG.

  6. Theroughout the campaign for a few Tories to choose a new leader, the term “fracking” has been used, but it has not been made clear whether it is referring to onshore or offshore fracking. Offshore has become more difficult to extract, but continues to be extracted and sold on the international market. Truss arranged for most of hte UK gas storage to be closed so that it is now difficult to keep stores ahead of increased demand in difficult winters….. sadly, this has shown a lack of competence by government. As stated in the article above, existing and increasing climate change causes the uncertainty of water supplies and the likelihood of droughts worldwide. Once used for fracking water is no longer usable to anything else: If re-injected ino wells, which happens to keep industry costs down and avoid processing costs, there is an increased risk of earthquakes as in Ohio and indeed Groningen in the Netherlands where there was huge damage to property. Campaigners are tired of this industry casually dismissing the problems with onshore fracking. Where is the respect for the citizens of the UK who dont want this dirty industry? Respect has never been there and continues not to be there.

    • CJR, at the time, centrica closed the Rough storage facility on commercial grounds, following the government’s decision not to write a blank cheque to cover the required maintenance and upgrade costs.

      If the waste water that comes back up the well after fracking (flowback fluid) is not to be, or cannot be reused for further fracking, then it must be managed as a waste.

      The flowback fluid from fracking cannot be re-injected into the ground for disposal. It must be treated to remove contaminants at a permitted waste treatment facility, regulated by the Environment Agency.

      Groningen in the Netherlands Is a conventional gas field where fracking has never taken place. The seismicity is due to compaction of the local geology.

    • You’re right. Throughout the Tory leadership campaign, the term fracking has been used. I imagine the candidates were referring to onshore fracking since they constantly assured us that fracking would only go ahead with the explicit consent of the communities involved. That would seem to mean onshore communities. Mr Rees Mogg now appears to be treating communities with his usual contempt for those he considers his inferiors, refusing to state how said explicit consent would be determined and declaring locals should nobly ‘take it on the chin’ in the words of Mr Johnson and put up with all the horrors associated with fracking ‘in the national interest,’ when we all know what he really means is in the interest of the fracking industry.

  7. So, people living close to active fracking sites should tolerate more risk of:
    Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, acute attacks of asthma, strokes, heart-attacks and heart-failure, premature and low birth weights, adverse birth outcomes including major congenital anomalies, severe neonatal morbidity and increased neonatal mortality, vasculitis, chronic rhino-sinusitis, migraine headaches, fatigue, and increased levels of stress and anxiety.

  8. I have seen first hand the devastation and damage caused by fracking. I have experienced the government’s determination to impose it regardless of the cost to those who live nearby. I have been impacted by their uncaring attitude regarding mental health issues caused by their decisions, huge losses in property values, damage caused by earthquakes and lives blighted by huge increases in hgv traffic on country lanes – lanes frequented by cyclists. I have watched as whole communities are deemed expendable collateral damage by both ministers and the fracking industry. I have noticed how almost all those ministers so keen on appeasing the fracking industry have been very careful to ensure that no fracking licenses are granted anywhere near their constituencies. Luckily I realized that despite all assurances given when the moratorium was imposed in 2019, public safety is of no consideration, neither to our government collectively nor any minister individually. It became clear that all their reassurances were nothing but a tissue of lies. As a result, I was forced to sell my dream home in the rural Fylde peninsula, taking a £25,000 loss due to the ongoing threat of fracking, and buy myself a boat. Never again will I trust my government to have my best interests at heart. They have made it abundantly clear that lives mean nothing next to company profits. The Truss government have re-written one of JFK’s best known speeches. Their version is “Ask Not What I Can Do For My Country, Ask Rather How Much Of My Country Can I Rape To Profit Me?” Members of the House of Commons Honourable? They wouldn’t know honour if it was packaged as a film star and called Blackman.

  9. When will we finally realise that this unthinking, uncaring government must go? I thought we had reached this point under the last mendacious regime. (Come to think of it, if mendacity is one’s raison d’être, is the adjective still meaningful?)
    The best we can hope for from this monumental error is that democracy will finally assert itself. In the meantime, groups opposed to fracking are girding their loins. Those parties equally opposed to fracking must now take the initiative. and insist that this latest popularist spree should not further disadvantage the development of renewables.
    Don’t give up, Jules. Work for better.

    • So, you haven’t bothered, Jack.

      Okay, neither have I.

      But then you never cared that children would die from handling a known carcinogen (cobalt) so why would you care about all those people who die from electricity around the world, including from forest fires in USA.

      Pretty selective your search engine, isn’t it?! Maybe that is why you are not taken seriously.

      What sort of person am I? Oh dear, JacktheLad!! It was your choice to saddle yourself with that title, and you have tried to demonstrate why. Fully evaluate? You mean like your post about Chesapeake Energy that you then quickly tried to justify with a claim that 2020 was “normal”.

      Besides, Jack, you have previously stated you can be who you like on DoD. Well, you can, I am just me.

      • MARTIN,

        What on earth are you talking about , banging on about children handling Cobalt in countries thousands of miles away from the UK ….

        WHAT ABOUT YOUR CONCERN for children here in the UK ????????

        Utterly, Utterly shameful of you MARTIN and your response shows you don’t care one bit about UK children.

        Ladies and Gentlemen of Drill Or Drop , please take note of MARTINS response to my questions regarding the safety of you and your families here in the UK

        I am going to continue to expose you for what you are MARTIN .

        THEREFORE AGAIN I WILL ASK YOU .

        How much Fracked Gas is BREAST CANCER in one woman worth ?????

        https://www.bcaction.org/the-root-causes-of-breast-cancer/our-fossil-fuel-work/dont-frack-with-our-health/#:~:text=Breast%20Cancer%20Action%20opposes%20hydraulic,are%20linked%20to%20breast%20cancer.

        AND how much Fracked Gas is LEUKEMIA in one CHILD worth ??????

        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.

        WELL MARTIN ???????

        As for your attempt to try and turn the forum members against electricity , well keep that one up old chap , we all need a good laugh 😃🤣

        • Oh so now a character out of fiction is going to expose what he/she/it wants to keep hidden.

          Sorry, Jack(?) what you expose is your concern. Too much has already been put out for viewing.

          Turn forum members against electricity? Really Jack, what nonsense. You believe that forum members are not aware of how dangerous electricity is to health, and is documented as being so? Just because you seem to be unaware there are just as many, if not more health issues documented with that form of energy supply than others. I know it doesn’t fit your agenda, but little does. It is still true.

          So, why has USA not seen all this litigation shutting down fracking in USA? I noted your last nonsense about money, that did not seem to apply to litigation against electricity suppliers. Maybe the cases were just too tenuous to stand a chance of success? And that bar is not too high in the land of the free- and greedy lawyers.

          What specifically about Chesapeake Energy? The original that was showing they suffered financial problems in 2020, that you wished to use to display that fracking was not profitable, or the subsequent ones where you moved to anyone in oil and gas after 2020 could make a fortune? Whilst still trying to suggest 2020 was a normal year!
          Sorry Jack, whatever you post on the subject now is all too late. You travelled out on that limb. It broke. Just accept it wasn’t the first time, it will not be the last-but a tree surgeon you are not.

          • WELL MARTIN ,

            Do you want to give the readers an extra laugh at your expense ???????

            I’m only thinking about you old chap . I will be quite happy to once again ☺ 🤣 ” cut and paste ” my endlessly , repeated comments on Chesapeake Energy to you .

            Just let your buddy JACK know.

            Anyway moving on , what are your thoughts about this ???????

            FRACKING is dangerous to your health .

            https://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2017/02/23/fracking-is-dangerous-to-your-health-heres-why/

            Well MARTIN

            • How would that happen, Jack? Would you just start denying what you really posted? Not again, surely Jack.

              You were only whinging the other day that no one was taking any notice of your posts.

              Shout as much as you like, ask again for support, but it hasn’t worked so far. Not my problem Jack. The solution is with you, not me.

              Yes, I am very well, Jack. Well enough to note how you could not give a logical explanation for the lack of successful litigation, just more activity on your search engine with the same limited setting.

              But do enjoy your weekend. Hope you keep the cold out that is forecast. Knitting Jack, that should do it.

      • MARTIN

        OH and as for your FEEBLE , now LAUGHABLE attempt to once again , try and divert the conversation to a topic WE have discussed DOZENS of time’s RECENTLY

        DO YOU REALLY want JACK to once again ” Cut And Paste ” his forum posts on Chesapeake Energy again ?????????

        WHAT ON EARTH is the matter with you MARTIN ??????????

  10. Thanks Iaith. I’ll never give up the fight but neither will I ever again trust any word spoken by an MP. People seem to believe that government don’t understand how fracking affects communities. They understand it all too well, its simply that they couldn’t care less. I’m no longer prepared to put my health, home or accumulated assets at risk of damage from unscrupulous charlatans masquerading as saviours of the planet.

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