Fracking ban in England lifted
The UK Government has lifted the ban on Fracking in England which has been in force since 2019. The ban was imposed after earthquakes at potential fracking sites in Lancashire, on the grounds that there was inadequate scientific and technical knowledge about its effects.
However, in response to a Government request for a review of new scientific evidence from 2019 to the present, the British Geoogical Survey concluded in a report submitted in July that
"forecasting the occurrence of large earthquakes and their expected magnitude is complex and remains a scientific challenge. As a result, our ability to evaluate and mitigate risks from hydraulic fracturing-induced seismicity and predict the occurrence of larger earthquakes during hydraulic fracturing operations is also a challenge".
In other words, scientific evidence which would justify the lifting of the fracking ban does not exist.
The other condition suggested by the government for the resumption of fracking - made in a leadership campaign promise by Liz Truss that fracking would only be permitted with local consent - seems likely to be broken. When pressed in the Commons Jacpb Rees-Mogg, Minister for Business and Energy, was unable to suggest how this consent might be obtained or measured, and said that fracking firms should use compensation "to make what they are proposing to do welcome to local communities". An alternative to bribery also being considered is designating fracking sites as "nationally important infrastructure", thus depriving local communities of any say in decisions.
Esme Stallard BBC News Climate and Science 22 September 2022
Rees-Mogg accuses opponents of "hysteria"
Peter Walker and Aubrey Allegretti 22 September 2022
Controversy re-ignited in Lancashire
BBC 22 September 2022
Unconventional Oil and Gas in Scotland
On 28 January 2015, the Scottish Government put in place a moratorium on unconventional oil and gas development in Scotland, which prevents hydraulic fracturing and coal bed methane extraction taking place.
Scottish Government statement on fracking rejects legal ban
On 3 October Scottish Environment minister Paul Wheelhouse announced in Parliament that after years of deliberation and consultation the government had concluded that "the development of onshore unconventional oil and gas is incompatible with our policies on climate change, energy transition and the decarbonisation of our economy" and would not be permitted.
The 'ban' would be implemented by instructing councils to refuse all planning applications for fracking rather than by the outright legislative prohibition that environmental groups and some opposition parties have demanded.
The minister said “I am mindful of the fact that there have been calls from stakeholders, and from colleagues in this chamber, for a legislative ban on unconventional oil and gas in Scotland. We do not consider that new legislation is necessary at this time to control unconventional oil and gas development in Scotland; a strong policy position enacted through devolved planning powers and licensing is – we believe – robust, evidence-led and sufficient. However that option remains open if there is evidence over time that further action is required.”
Environmental groups and some opposition parties have argued that a block enforced via planning powers could be reversed easily by a future government.
Mary Church from Friends of the Earth Scotland said it was "very welcome" that fracking would not be allowed, but added
"Ministers must live up their rhetoric and fulfil the promises of two years ago by committing to a full legal ban on fracking that will put this issue to bed once and for all.
"The effective ban announced two years ago has been exposed in court as having no legal force and was described by the Scottish government's own legal team as merely 'the language of a press release'.
"An expert legal opinion from earlier this year shows that not only is it well within the power of the Scottish government to ban fracking, but that legislating would be a far more effective way to stop the industry and defeat any further legal challenges from companies like Ineos who want to frack the central belt."
Guardian report by Severin Carrell 3 October 2019
BBC News report 3 October 2019
Fracking protest for legal ban in 2017
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