The chief executive of the UK’s first shale gas company has criticised Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to restore the ban on fracking, saying it “beggars belief.”
Fracking, which has been effectively banned in the UK since 2019, is a sensitive issue for the ruling Conservative Party.
While some senior Conservatives support fracking as a way to boost the UK’s energy supplies, many Tory MPs face strong opposition to the practice in their constituencies.
Liz Truss lifted the fracking ban in September during her brief spell as prime minister, as she argued it would strengthen the country’s energy security following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But after Sunak took office, he said that he was committed to the ban, as it was part of the Conservative Party’s 2019 general election manifesto.
‘Beggars belief’Francis Egan, chief executive of fracking firm Cuadrilla, said the move has “no rational scientific justification.”
He said Sunak, while running for leadership of the Conservative Party, had said that scientists “have concluded that fracking is safe and seismic activity is not out of the ordinary.”
Egan said: “In the middle of an energy and cost-of-living crisis, when the UK and Europe is increasingly reliant on shale gas shipped across the Atlantic and liquified gas from Qatar to keep the lights on, it beggars belief that our government should reintroduce a moratorium on exploring for and producing our own shale gas.”
He said the shale gas industry “has the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs across the North of England, generate billions in private sector investment, and provide local councils with much-needed tax revenue.”
‘Great Shame’Business Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed on Oct. 27 that the fracking ban was being re-imposed, just a little over a month after it had been lifted.
In his written statement, Shapps said that “forecasting the occurrence of large earthquakes and their expected magnitude owing to shale gas extraction remains a challenge with significant uncertainty.”
He said the government would “again take a presumption against issuing any further hydraulic fracturing consents” and this is “an effective moratorium.”
But Egan rejected the government’s view, pointing to the risks of depending on foreign energy supplies.
“By turning our back on our huge onshore gas resources, responsibility for this country’s ongoing gas supply has been transferred by politicians to the whims of dictators and the uncertainties of international supply lines and prices,” he said.
“The consequences of outsourcing energy supply are all too apparent, it’s a great shame that the political foresight and willpower to address this are currently lacking.”