Rishi Sunak Restores Fracking Ban as Video Emerges of him Supporting it During Leadership Contest

Rishi Sunak Restores Fracking Ban as Video Emerges of him Supporting it During Leadership Contest
The Cuadrilla fracking site in Preston New Road. (Danny Lawson/PA)
Chris Summers
The new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has restored the moratorium on fracking only weeks after Liz Truss's government lifted the ban.

A Downing Street spokesman confirmed the news after Sunak was asked about the issue at his first Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a process in which high-pressure liquid is fired at shale formations to release gas.

The 2019 Conservative manifesto promised not to lift the moratorium on fracking in England unless “the science shows categorically it can be done safely.”

Sunak told Parliament he “stands by” the Conservative Party's 2019 election manifesto and promised to deliver on what Boris Johnson's government had agreed at the U.N. COP26 climate talks in Glasgow.

'Victory for Common Sense'

Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Danny Gross welcomed the decision and said, “This is a fantastic victory for common sense, the environment, and local communities across the country who have stood up to the threat of fracking."

Forty Tory MPs voted against the government during the fracking debate earlier this month and many on the green wing of the party welcomed the U-turn.

Sam Hall, director of the Conservative Environment Network, said of fracking, “It is unpopular, and few communities would approve fracking projects locally, meaning little or no gas would be extracted, despite the high political cost."

There have been concerns that fracking could cause earthquakes but last month a report (pdf) on the science of fracking by the British Geological Survey (BGS) was published, which was “inconclusive” and said more data was needed.

But the decision to go back on Truss's commitment to fracking has been criticised in some quarters.

Richard Tice, leader of the Reform Party, posted a video of a televised debate during the Conservative leadership contest on Twitter and wrote: "Another video of Rishi Sunak supporting fracking 10 weeks ago, now banning it as Prime Minister. Liar. No ifs no buts. No better than Boris Johnson. Possibly worse. So once again a Tory PM who cannot be trusted with a word he says. Awful, shocking."

The Labour Party said the Conservative government could not be trusted on fracking, despite Sunak's pledge.

Shadow climate and net zero secretary Ed Miliband said, “Last week Rishi Sunak voted against Labour’s fracking ban, but this week his spokespeople tell us he is in favour of the temporary moratorium on fracking in the Conservative manifesto.

“Whatever their latest position, the truth is that the Tories have shown that they cannot be trusted on the issue of fracking," he added.

PA Media contributed to this report.