Fracking ban election stunt?

Government suspends fracking in England after earth tremors


Government ends support for fracking

  • Oil and Gas Authority report published today concludes that it is not possible with current technology to accurately predict the probability of tremors associated with fracking

  • Separate proposals to change the planning process for fracking sites will no longer be taken forward at this time

Fracking will not be allowed to proceed in England, the government has announced today, following the publication of new scientific analysis.

Ministers took the decision on the basis of a report by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), which found that it is not currently possible to accurately predict the probability or magnitude of earthquakes linked to fracking operations.

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Is the fracking suspension an election stunt?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

The government has announced that fracking will not be allowed to proceed in England.

The suspension comes after a report by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) found that it is "not currently possible to accurately predict the probability or magnitude of earthquakes linked to fracking operations".

Business and energy secretary Andrea Leadsom said that the government is being led by "the best available scientific evidence".

However, Jeremy Corbyn has dismissed the suspension as an election stunt.

The Claim

Andrea Leadsom said that there should be a moratorium on fracking in England "with immediate effect".

The business and energy secretary said that she did not want "unacceptable" impacts on local communities from shale gas exploration.

She said: "Whilst acknowledging the huge potential of UK shale gas to provide a bridge to a zero carbon future, I've also always been clear that shale gas exploration must be carried out safely.

"In the UK, we have been led by the best available scientific evidence, and closely regulated by the Oil and Gas Authority, one of the best regulators in the world."

Leadsom added: "After reviewing the OGA's report into recent seismic activity at Preston New Road, it is clear that we cannot rule out future unacceptable impacts on the local community."

The Counterclaim

However, the government's fracking U-turn has been described as an "election stunt" by Jeremy Corbyn.

The Labour leader accused the Tories of "greenwashing" with the temporary suspension, the Guardian reports.

He tweeted: "The Conservatives' temporary pause of fracking is an election stunt to try and win a few votes.

"Boris Johnson described fracking as ‘glorious news for humanity’. We cannot trust him.

"Labour would ban fracking. That's real change."

Corbyn also told reporters that fracking would come back on December 13, if the Tories were elected back into office.

The Facts

Shale gas exploration was suspended in August after the UK's only active fracking site - Preston New Road in Lancashire - triggered earth tremors, causing a magnitude 2.9 earthquake.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said that further consent to carry out fracking will not be granted unless the industry can predict and control tremors.

However, as the BBC notes, it has stopped short of an outright ban.

A report by the National Audit Office, published at the end of October, found that the government's plan for fracking in the UK was years behind schedule.

The Whitehall spending watchdog revealed that it has cost the taxpayer at least £32 million - with £13.4 million spent on policing protests against fracking sites.

What is fracking?

Fracking is short for hydraulic fracturing, a method of extracting gas or oil trapped in rocks deep underground.

The fracking process involves drilling down into the ground before a high-pressure water mixture - containing water, sand, and chemicals - is directed at the rock to release the shale gas inside and bring it to the surface.

According to Wired, the process involves "pumping up to 16 Olympic swimming pools’ worth of water", as well as the chemical additives and sand, into shale rocks lying between two and three kilometres underground.

It is estimated that as much as 1,300 trillion cubic feet of shale gas lies under 11 counties in central and northern England. This is the equivalent of more than 51 years of gas supply for the UK.

The gas collected from fracking is still a fossil fuel, that will be burned and emit carbon emissions. If all UK reserves are exploited for shale gas, it would release 7,485 metric tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

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