The Government has withdrawn its support for fracking in England and will not take forward proposed planning reforms that were consulted on in 2018.
The decision comes in light of a report published by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), which provides strong scientific evidence that the probability of tremors that are associated with shale gas exploration cannot be accurately predicted.
Ministers have always been clear that they support the exploration of England’s shale gas reserves only when it is proved to be safe and sustainable for the environment. However, the report published by the OGA, coupled with the disturbances that local residents have been experiencing in Lancashire near the Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site, has meant the Government will not support further exploration unless new scientific evidence is presented.
Business and Energy Secretary Andrea Leadsom said:
“Whilst acknowledging the huge potential of UK shale gas to provide a bridge to a zero carbon future, I’ve also always been clear that shale gas exploration must be carried out safely. In the UK, we have been led by the best available scientific evidence, and closely regulated by the Oil and Gas Authority, one of the best regulators in the world.
“After reviewing the OGA’s report into recent seismic activity at Preston New Road, it is clear that we cannot rule out future unacceptable impacts on the local community.
“For this reason, I have concluded that we should put a moratorium on fracking in England with immediate effect.”
Business, Energy and Clean Growth Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said:
“The Committee on Climate Change’s advice is clear that natural gas will continue to have a key role to play as we eliminate our contribution to climate change by 2050, including for the production of hydrogen. However, following our action today, that gas will need to come from sources other than domestic fracking.
“Today’s decision will not in any way impact our energy supply. The UK benefits from one of the most active gas markets in the world, with security ensured through diverse sources - including domestic offshore production, pipelines from Europe and liquid natural gas terminals.”
Local MP, Caroline Dinenage, commented:
“I know that many of my constituents have contacted me with their concerns regarding fracking.
“I am pleased that the Government is making its decision based on strong scientific evidence and the impact that shale gas exploration has on the local communities.”