When she was first chosen as Prime Minister a little over a month ago, Liz Truss set to work to immediately make her impression on the country.
She selected the MP for Northeast Somerset and climate change denier, Jacob Rees Mogg, as Energy Secretary and announced a lifting of the 2019 ban on fracking. This ban came into force in November 2019, when the then Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng no less, issued a press release ending government support for fracking!
Fracking is a process of extracting shale gas, which lies deep within the earth, by drilling and pumping a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the rock layer to release the gas inside. This gas can then be used as an energy source.
Apart from the fact Britain can replace any energy made from shale gas with energy from renewable sources (as Scotland does), the fracking process itself is known to cause damage to the local environment. Due to the hydraulic fracturing involved, using a mixture of sand, water, and chemicals, it has been known to pollute the local wildlife and water and to cause earthquakes.
Between 1975 and 1990, six boreholes were drilled to investigate the possibility of extracting hydrocarbons in the Forest of Dean and the Cotswolds and found reserves of shale gas.
If these are exploited, it would mean that an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty area, the third biggest protected landscape in England, could be full of fracking sites.
Sites up and down the country have also been identified, including the South Coast and Lancashire. Local leaders have given their thoughts on it, from Lancashire Conservative MPs speaking in the Commons, to Andy Burnham taking to twitter to oppose this.
One such leader was Gloucestershire Councillor for Bourton-on-the-Water and Northleach and Parliamentary Advisor for the Cotswolds, Paul Hodgkinson.
He told West England Bylines:
Actually, I’m disturbed that the “new” government…is deciding to put that aside which was part of their manifesto in 2019 that they would not go ahead with fracking unless the risks were seen to be eliminated which to my mind haven’t been.
… And, in fact, the Cotswolds Conservative MP, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, said that he wasn’t opposed to fracking in the Cotswolds and that people could be compensated financially for it.
Naturally, Jacob Rees Mogg called those who oppose bringing back fracking “lovers of Putin” but, after the Conservative Party Conference was interrupted by protesters, maybe this policy won’t live on much longer.
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