Liz Truss plan to lift fracking ban dubbed totem for Tory right

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Britain’s 56th Prime Minister has lifted a ban on fracking for shale gas in England. The move fulfils Liz Truss’ Tory leadership campaign commitment to increase domestic energy production amid a cost of living crisis which has seen energy bills soar.

The move to end the moratorium, ordered by her predecessor Boris Johnson in 2019 after fracking in Lancashire triggered small earthquakes, could result in shale wells becoming operational in as little as six months, Truss said.

However, senior figures in Government have cast doubt over Ms Truss’ plan.

According to the Times, one even said no commercial fracked gas was likely “within the next five years”.

They said: “It’s symbolic, it’s a totem for the right-wingers.

“It’s never going to happen. The practical hurdles are immense.

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“But Jacob [Rees-Mogg] and Liz need a sop to the right.”

The decision to lift the ban is also expected to be met with strong opposition from campaigners and environmentalists.

However, the Government has said it will publish a scientific report, commissioned by the British Geological Survey, which analyses whether fracking technology had improved since the moratorium was imposed and whether shale-related tremors can be reduced.

Ms Truss also told MPs fracking would only be allowed if it was supported by local residents.

She said: “We will end the moratorium on extracting our huge reserves of shale — which could get gas flowing as soon as six months — where there is local support for it.”

Ms Truss’ policy was initially opposed by her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng.

Mr Kwarteng, who served as Mr Johnson’s Business Secretary, previously claimed English shale reserves would not be produced at scale for a decade and would not be enough to cut global prices.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also warned fracking would not cut bills.

He added: “[It would] drive a coach and horses through our efforts to fight the looming climate crisis.”

Georgia Whitaker, oil and gas campaigner for Greenpeace UK, also voiced opposition to the move.

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She said: “Before the fracking moratorium, the industry had ten years of the Government ‘going all out for shale’ and giving them all the support denied to onshore wind.

“In that time, the frackers produced no energy for the UK but managed to create two holes in a muddy field, traffic, noise, earthquakes and enormous controversy.”

However, Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla, which has fracking operations in Lancashire, welcomed Ms Truss’ decision.

Speaking about the move, he said: “A thriving shale gas industry will drive job creation across the north of England, generate much-needed tax revenues for central and local government, and benefit local communities financially.”

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