A group of senior Conservative lawmakers has called on Boris Johnson to reverse the government’s ban on fracking as the UK faces an acute energy crisis.
In a joint letter to the prime minister, 30 Conservative politicians, including former Brexit minister David Frost and former culture secretary John Whittingdale, said it is “time to reverse this moratorium” on shale gas mining, which came into effect in 2019.
UK consumers are under immense pressure from rapidly rising energy prices. Another rise in energy costs is expected in April as suppliers are due to increase prices after the cost of gas in wholesale markets rose by more than 500 percent in less than a year.
The letter to Johnson, organised by the Net Zero Scrutiny Group of Conservative MPs, stated that shale gas mining would “allow us to combat the cost of living crisis, level up, create jobs, opportunity, and a renewed sense of community in the north, improve our energy security, reduce our reliance on imported gas, stabilise energy prices, and achieve net zero without increasing the cost of living for already hard-pressed working families.”
Talking to The Telegraph, Lord Frost said reversing the fracking ban would herald a “British energy renaissance.”
“If we don’t produce it here, as we have seen, all we do is import gas from elsewhere, and push up overall carbon emissions too," he said. "So let’s reverse the moratorium on shale gas and let a British energy renaissance begin.”
The intervention comes after energy company Cuadrilla was ordered to seal up two of England’s only viable shale gas wells, despite the worsening energy crisis.
Writing in the Telegraph, Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan hit out at the move, saying “using domestic shale gas should be a no-brainer.
“Developing and producing this precious resource would create tens of thousands of well-paid jobs and empower local communities in the North,” he wrote.
But Lord Goldsmith, the minister of state for the Pacific and the international environment, voiced opposition to the push within his party to reverse the fracking ban.
In a series of Twitter posts, he said: “To replace half the gas we import, we’d likely need around 6,000 new wells, with all the associated industrial equipment & endless movements of trucks ferrying toxic chemicals & wastewater to & from sites. It’s hard to imagine communities across the UK being ok with that.”
He said fracking is unpopular as “people do not want large-scale industrialisation of the British countryside,” citing data from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy showing that only 18 percent of the British public support the mining of shale gas.