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Lord Frost leads Tory revolt against Government’s fracking ban

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Lord Frost is part of a group of senior Tory MPs and peers urging Boris Johnson to reverse the Government’s ban on fracking as the UK faces an energy crisis.

In a joint letter to the prime minister, the former cabinet minister and around 29 other Tories said it was “time to lift this moratorium”.

The ban on shale gas extraction which came into effect in 2019 comes after energy company Cuadrilla was ordered to seal two of England’s only viable shale gas wells.

The Cuadrilla fracking site at Preston New Road (Cuadrilla/PA)

Lord Frost said overturning the fracking ban would herald a “British energy renaissance”.

He told the Telegraph: “If our economy is to thrive after Brexit, British industry needs a competitive and reliable source of energy that we hold in our hands and that brings investment into this country. Shale gas production achieves all of this and more.

“If we don’t produce it here, as we’ve seen, all we’re doing is importing gas from elsewhere and increasing global carbon emissions as well.

“So let’s lift the shale gas moratorium and start a UK energy renaissance.”

Resignation of Lord Frost
Lord Frost was previously the government‘s chief Brexit negotiator (AP)

Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan has denounced the decision to plug and permanently abandon its two horizontal shale wells drilled at the Preston New Road site in Lancashire, saying domestic shale gas could combat the crisis of the cost of living.

Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Egan said ‘use of domestic shale gas should be a no-brainer’.

He added, “The development and production of this valuable resource would create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs and empower local northern communities. The ‘red wall’ councils would raise millions of pounds in local taxes, and the domestic gas production tax could generate revenue for the NHS.

Lord Goldsmith, the Minister of State for the Pacific and International Environment, appeared to be responding to pressure within his party to lift the moratorium.

In a series of tweets, he said: “The argument that fracking will reduce our dependence on Russian gas is false. Only between 1 and 3% of British gas comes from Russia. We mainly import from Norway – a friend and ally.

“To replace half the gas we import, we would probably need around 6,000 new wells, with all the associated industrial equipment and the endless movements of trucks carrying toxic chemicals and sewage to and from the sites. . It’s hard to imagine communities across the UK agreeing with that.

“It’s hard to overstate how unpopular fracking is with the British public. The latest attitude tracker from BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) showed only 18% support (76% backed by onshore wind). People do not want large-scale industrialization of the British countryside.

“And given that the gas would be produced by private companies and sold at the highest price (internationally), there would probably be no measurable impact on UK gas prices anyway.”

Lord Goldsmith concluded by saying: “We need gas – it’s the cleanest bridge to renewables (I haven’t seen a model that says otherwise). But the UK is not Utah. To have any impact, the government would have to rig the market and go to war with angry communities. At all levels, the cost would be enormous.

The controversial process of hydraulic fracturing involves pumping liquid deep underground at high pressure to fracture shale rock and release the gas or oil trapped inside.

A moratorium was imposed on fracking in November 2019 after it caused two minor earthquakes in Lancashire.