Rishi Sunak has hinted that the moratorium on fracking for shale gas in England will be reinstated.
Speaking at prime minister’s questions this morning, he said he “stands by” the Conservative party 2019 manifesto on fracking.
The manifesto said:
“We will not support fracking unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely.”
Mr Sunak’s predecessor, Liz Truss, announced on her fourth day in office that the moratorium would be lifted.
Her business secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, officially ended the moratorium on 22 September, in a written ministerial statement.
The Financial Times is reporting this lunchtime that a senior government official said that decision would be reversed.
The Guardian’s Jessica Elgot has tweeted from a lobby briefing : “confirmed fracking ban is here to stay as per 2019 manifesto”.
Mr Sunak’s response followed a question by the Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas. She later tweeted:
“A major result today: after my question at #PMQs, PM just committed to maintain ban on climate-wrecking #fracking. Rees-Mogg’s dangerous, destructive & deeply unpopular plan to frack the nation is dead in the water – now we must ensure Govt sticks to its promise.”
She also tweeted:
Yay!! A result at #PMQs! Yesterday new PM vowed to fix his reckless predecessor’s mistakes. So I asked if he’ll start by reversing green light she gave to #fracking. And he gave a commitment to stick with manifesto moratorium. And if he backtracks, we’ll never let him forget!— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) October 26, 2022
DrillOrDrop asked the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) whether the moratorium would be reinstated – and if not, what evidence had been used to prove that fracking could be done safely. The department has not responded.
A review of the science of fracking, commissioned by BEIS, concluded that forecasting induced-earthquakes remained a scientific challenge and there were “significant knowledge gaps”.
BEIS is facing a legal challenge over lifting the moratorium from three campaign organisations. The department has until Friday 28 October to respond to a letter before action.
During the leadership campaign against Liz Truss, Mr Sunak said he supported fracking with local consent.
The moratorium covered only shale gas fracking which met the definitions in the Infrastructure Act
Caroline Lucas said:
“The prime minister’s reckless predecessor took a wrecking ball to nature, prompting millions of the RSPB, the National Trust and the Wildlife Trust to rise up in opposition. Yesterday, he promised to fix her mistakes, as well as to uphold the party’s 2019 manifesto. So if he is a man of his word, will he start by reversing the greenlight she gave to fracking – since it’s categorically not been shown to be safe – and instead maintain the moratorium, which was pledged in that very manifesto that he has already promised to uphold.
Rishi Sunak replied:
“I’ve already said that I stand by the manifesto on that.
“But what I would say is that I’m proud that this government has passed the landmark Environment Act, giving more protection to the national environment than we’ve ever had, with a clear plan to deliver. And I can give the honourable lady my commitment that we will deliver on all those ambitions, we will deliver on what we said at COP, because we care deeply about passing our children an environment in a better state that we found it ourselves.”