Prime Minister Liz Truss lifts fracking ban to deal with energy crisis

New Prime Minister Liz Truss has reversed the ban on fracking as part of her plan to tackle the energy crisis.

Speaking in Parliament, the prime minister said the ban on shale gas production would be lifted in England, meaning production could begin in as little as six months.

The ban had been introduced in 2019 following concerns over a series of earth tremors in Lancashire, by green groups and locals.

Ms Truss told the House of Commons: “We will end the moratorium on extracting our huge reserves of shale – which could get gas flowing as soon as six months – where there is local support for it.”

The energy firm Cuadrilla, which owns the two fracking wells at Preston New Road in Lancashire, had previously been ordered to plug the wells by 30 June.

Liz Truss unveiled her new energy package which means the average UK household will pay no more than £2,500 per year.

The measures will come into effect from 1 October and stay in place for two years.

The package includes the launch of a new oil and gas licensing round, which is expected to lead to more than 100 new licences for fossil fuel extraction from the North Sea.

Workers at the Cuadrilla fracking site in Preston New Road, Lancashire

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer warned it would not cut bills or strengthen energy security, but would “drive a coach and horses through our efforts to fight the looming climate crisis”.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine pushed energy prices and security to the top of the agenda, prompting calls for the Government to rethink the fracking ban.

In an interview during her campaign to become Prime Minister, Liz Truss said: "I support exploring fracking in parts of the United Kingdom where that can be done."

The Prime Minister's press secretary said: "She made clear her position during the campaign but I'm not going to get into what's in this energy package."

He insisted that the Tories 2019 manifesto - which said they will not support fracking unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely - still stands in full.

However he added: "I'm not going to get into what's in the energy statement tomorrow."

Francis Egan, chief executive of energy company Cuadrilla, which has fracking operations in Lancashire, welcomed the lifting of the moratorium.

He said: “A thriving shale gas industry will drive job creation across the North of England, generate much-needed tax revenues for central and local government, and benefit local communities financially.

“The Government has made the right call, and we look forward to working with them to ensure this industry can start generating results as soon as possible.

“The prize if we get this right will be an energy strategy fit for the 21st century that provides security of supply, economic prosperity, and vital support to the British public,” he said.

Opposition and Conservative MPs have questioned why a practice deemed "unviable" three years ago should be reconsidered now.

Lancashire Conservative MP Mark Menzies, whose constituency in Fylde is affected, previously told the House of Commons he recognised the need to end the reliance on overseas fossil fuels but told the Commons: "Fracking is not a solution."

What is fracking?

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a process whereby liquid is pumped deep underground at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release gas or oil trapped within it.

Environmentalists also warn that pursuing new sources of gas - a fossil fuel - is not in line with efforts to tackle climate change, and focus should be on developing cleaner sources of energy such as renewables.

Two senior advisers, the heads of the Climate Change Committee (CCC) and the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), have warned that UK gas reserves are too small to make a difference to consumer energy costs, which are set by international gas prices.

CCC chairman Lord Deben and NIC chairman Sir John Armitt said in a letter to the new PM that the UK cannot address the crisis over soaring energy prices solely by increasing production of natural gas.

In the letter they said: "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.Friends of the Earth campaigner Danny Gross said: "Fracking is disruptive, unpopular and will do little to boost energy security or bring down bills."Fossil fuels are at the root of so many of the problems we currently face.

"We need clean, modern solutions to the energy and climate crises.

"That means insulation, energy efficiency and developing cheap renewables like onshore wind and solar."

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