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UK lifts fracking ban in England despite opposition

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London — The UK government confirmed on Thursday that it will ban fracking in England, arguing that the move will help boost the country’s energy security during Russia’s war in Ukraine. Prime Minister Liz Truss announced within days of taking office earlier this month that she would roll back a 2019 ban on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial technique used to extract oil and gas from shale rock.

Britain needs to “explore all avenues available to us through solar, wind, oil and gas production – so it’s good that we’ve lifted the lull to realize potential sources of domestic gas,” company said. and energy secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg Thursday.

Truss said she “will not proceed with anything that poses a risk”, but emphasized that “energy security is vital”.

The Conservative government suspended fracking in November 2019 after a series of tremors were recorded at the UK’s only shale wells near Blackpool in the North West of England.

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Anti-fracking protesters stand outside a fracking site near Blackpool, England, on September 8, 2022.

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The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said lifting the ban means future uses will be considered “where there is local support”. Developers must have the necessary licenses and permissions before they can begin 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 can pollute groundwater and contribute to climate change when the natural gas is subsequently burned. Critics also say it’s an ineffective way to generate power, doesn’t help cut soaring utility bills, and is opposed by communities wherever it’s attempted.

“Even when the government went all out for shale, the frackers were not producing energy for the UK, but managed to create two holes in a muddy field, traffic, noise and a colossal amount of controversy,” said Philip Evans, campaigner for energy security from Greenpeace. .

Extinction Rebellion Demonstration in London
Thousands of Extinction Rebellion climate activists gathered in central London for a march on April 9, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. Protests were staged for two weeks calling for an end to the world’s reliance on fossil fuels.

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A government-commissioned study of the risks of shale gas extraction conducted by the British Geological Survey was inconclusive, as more data was needed. Officials argued that the “limited current understanding of British geology and onshore shale resources” should not be a barrier to fracking.

“Clearly, more sites need to be drilled to collect better data and improve the science base, and we are aware that some developers are eager to assist in this process,” said a statement from the government’s business department. .

“Lifting the pause in shale gas extraction will allow drilling to collect this further data, gain a better understanding of UK shale gas resources and how we can safely conduct shale gas extraction in the UK, where there is local support.”

Opposition parties accused the conservative government of breaking its own manifesto promise in 2019, when the party pledged not to lift the ban on fracking unless scientifically proven the practice was safe amid earthquake concerns.

The other parts of the UK – Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – will not be affected by Thursday’s announcement. Fracking is either completely banned in those other regions or not yet licensed.

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