The MP for Lancaster has accused the government of a ‘political stunt’ amid growing fears over the future of fracking in Lancashire.
Cat Smith polled the Energy Minister in the Commons this week following the Government’s decision to order an inquiry into fracking, with the British Geological Survey (BGS) tasked ‘to provide advice on the latest scientific advice concerning the extraction of shale gas”.
In 2019 ministers imposed a moratorium on the process, which pumps water, chemicals and sand underground at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release trapped oil and gas.
The move follows tremors above legal levels set during testing at a site in Preston New Road near Blackpool. Earlier this month, energy producer Cuadrilla had a deadline to cap its three shale gas test wells in Lancashire extended until June 2023. It had previously been ordered to concrete the wells in here on June 30 this year after the effective ban on hydraulic fracturing in 2019.
But the question of fracking has arisen again as the government tries to reduce soaring energy bills and secure its own oil and gas supplies in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. .
In the Commons, addressed Kwasi Kwarteng directly saying:
”At the 2019 general election, the government said fracking in Lancashire was going to be scrapped, there was a moratorium and pits were going to be filled with concrete.
”May I ask the Secretary of State, what has changed between 2019 and now to put it back on the table?
”What did he get from COP26?
Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, responded:
”There has been a problem with the wholesale price of gas, in that it has increased about ten times over this period.
”It seems quite reasonable that if we have gas under our feet, we look into the possibility of using it.”
In a statement, Ms Smith later added: ”The moratorium was about safety. Nothing was said in 2019 about wholesale gas prices. The fracking moratorium was a political blow to votes in the last general election.
”Local people don’t want it, there are no jobs and it wouldn’t be commissioned quickly enough to reduce energy bills. Renewable energy is faster, cleaner and more sustainable.”
Earlier this month it was revealed Heysham’s nuclear power output could be extended after the site was named in a major new UK government energy strategy.
Up to eight more nuclear reactors could be approved at these sites in coming years, with the government now aiming to deliver the equivalent of one reactor per year, rather than one per decade.