LONDON — The British government confirmed Thursday that it is lifting a ban on fracking in England, arguing that the move will help boost the country’s energy security amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Prime Minister Liz Truss announced within days of taking office earlier this month that she would withdraw a 2019 ban on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial technique used to extract oil and gas from shale rock. Is.
The UK “needs to explore all the avenues available to us through solar, wind, oil and gas generation – so it is right that we have closed the gap to realize any potential sources of domestic gas.” ” Commerce and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said Thursday. .
Truss said she would not “move forward with anything that is risky” but stressed that “energy security is very important.”
Officials also backed an extension of licenses for oil and gas operations in the North Sea, drawing ire from environmental groups on Thursday.
The Conservative government suspended fracking in November 2019 after earthquakes were recorded at Britain’s only shale wells near Blackpool in northwest England.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said lifting the ban meant future applications would be considered “where there is local support.” Developers will need to obtain necessary licenses and permissions before starting work.
Fracking involves injecting high-pressure water deep underground to extract oil or gas from rock. Environmental groups have long opposed the practice, saying it could contaminate groundwater and contribute to climate change. Critics also say it’s an inefficient way to generate energy, doesn’t help reduce skyrocketing energy bills, and is opposed by communities wherever it’s tried.
Rees-Mogg faced an angry backlash from lawmakers, including some in her own Conservative Party. Opposition parties accused the Conservative government of breaking its own manifesto pledge in 2019, when the party promised not to lift a ban on fracking until the practice was scientifically proven amid fears of earthquakes. Not proven safe.
Philip Evans, Greenpeace’s energy conservation campaigner, said: “Even when the government went ‘all out for shale’, frackers didn’t produce any energy for the UK but muddy fields, traffic, noise and much more. managed to poke two holes in the conflict.” .
A government-commissioned review of the risks of shale gas extraction by the British Geological Survey was inconclusive, saying more data was needed. Officials argued that the “limited current understanding of the UK’s geology and offshore resources” should not be a barrier to fracking.
“It is clear that we need to excavate more sites to collect better data and improve the evidence base,” the government’s business sector said in a statement. “Lifting the moratorium on shale gas extraction will enable drilling to gather more of this data, build an understanding of the UK’s shale gas resources and help us secure shale gas extraction in the UK where there is local support.” How can it be done properly?”
Other parts of the UK — Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales — are not affected by Thursday’s announcement.
Meanwhile, government approval for more oil and gas operations in the North Sea means more than 100 new licenses are expected to be issued from next month.
Friends of the Earth Scotland said the new round of licensing showed the UK government was “effectively denying the reality of the climate emergency”.
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