No10 favourite Liz Truss to lift the ban on fracking ‘within days’ as part of a drive to boost the UK’s energy supplies
- Truss confirmed last month she would end the 2019 suspension on drilling
- Lifting the ban ‘will be one of the first things that get done’ under Truss
- Communities where shale gas is extracted could be offered 25% off their bills
Liz Truss will lift the ban on fracking ‘within days’ if she becomes prime minister as part of a drive to boost the UK’s energy supplies.
Allies of the Foreign Secretary say she views the controversial technology as a priority in opening up new sources of domestic energy.
Writing in the Daily Mail last month, Miss Truss confirmed she would end the moratorium on drilling which has been in place since 2019.
The Tory leadership frontrunner said there was a need to ‘radically boost our domestic supplies’ of energy, adding: ‘We will end the effective ban on extracting our huge reserves of shale gas by fracking but be led by science, setting out a plan to ensure communities benefit.
Liz Truss will lift the ban on fracking ‘within days’ if she becomes prime minister as part of a drive to boost the UK’s energy supplies
‘Fracking will only take place in areas with a clear public consensus behind it.’
A source close to the Truss campaign last night said lifting the ban would be an immediate priority if, as expected, she emerges as Britain’s prime minister next week.
‘It will be one of the first things that gets done – it could be within the first few days,’ the source said, adding that Miss Truss and her likely appointee as business secretary, Jacob Rees-Mogg, were also ‘open’ to industry demands to relax planning restrictions blamed for hampering the development of what could become a multi-billion-pound sector. ‘The industry wants planning reforms and I think they will pushing against an open door,’ the source said.
A friend of Mr Rees-Mogg added: ‘His view is that the energy crisis we are facing is worse than the early 1970s – the scale for individuals and businesses is very worrying.
A source close to the Truss campaign last night said lifting the ban would be an immediate priority if, as expected, she emerges as Britain’s prime minister next week
‘But he wants Conservative solutions, including supply side reforms in areas like fracking because we have to get every form of domestic energy going.
‘Obviously fracking has been controversial but if you look at the polling, people become much more open to it if they are offered a direct financial incentive, which is what the industry is now talking about.’
The Mail revealed last week that fracking firms are drawing up plans to offer people discounts of up to 25 per cent off their energy bills in communities where shale gas is extracted.
Charles McAllister, policy director at industry body UK Onshore Oil and Gas, said an early lifting of the ‘unjustifiable’ moratorium would ‘demonstrate excellent foresight from the new government’.
He added: ‘Lifting the ban on the chance to extract potentially 50 years’ worth of domestic gas supply gives the opportunity to unleash one of the greatest economic, environmental and geopolitical opportunities the UK has seen in a generation.
‘In order to deliver the maximum benefit to the UK as quickly as possible in the national interest, government should give absolute policy support to the industry.’
Polling conducted for UK Onshore Oil and Gas at the start of the summer suggested that the offer of direct help with energy bills would see support for local fracking rise from 29 per cent to 53 per cent.
IGas, one of five firms involved in the market in the UK, has told the Treasury that UK shale gas could begin entering the market within 12 to 18 months if the Government got behind the sector
IGas, one of five firms involved in the market in the UK, has told the Treasury that UK shale gas could begin entering the market within 12 to 18 months if the Government got behind the sector.
The UK has vast reserves of shale gas, but fracking was halted in 2019 because of concerns about earth tremors.
A new study by the British Geological Survey was handed to ministers in July but has yet to be published. A Whitehall source told the Mail the report ‘opens the door’ to a resumption of fracking provided the latest environmental protections are put in place.
Another source said the surge in gas prices had also ‘changed the calculation’ within government about the pros and cons of the industry. Fracking has been credited with pushing down gas prices in the United States.
However, ministers have been sceptical about whether the industry can succeed in the more densely populated UK, where all previous drilling attempts have met with local protests.
Boris Johnson warned this week that he was ‘slightly dubious that it will prove to be a panacea’ and urged his successor to focus on green energy ‘where we are brilliant, and where the environmental damage is really minimal’.
Fracking involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into boreholes a mile underground to fracture the rock and release gas or oil.
Before the 2019 moratorium, companies had been required to pause fracking activity if there were earthquakes of magnitude 0.5 on the Richter scale – far below what people can feel at the surface. The largest recorded, in 2011, was of magnitude 2.3, which was felt in Blackpool.
The industry says the limits are too strict, pointing out that even the largest tremors are less than half the level of disturbance permitted by construction firms.
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