Some of the tremors used to justify the moratorium on shale gas exploration in Britain were “almost imperceptible”, according to the UK regulator. It should be resumed with “the vigour of a national war effort”, Conservative MPs said last night, as an official report cast doubt on evidence cited by ministers to justify the ban. The Telegraph has more.
Days after Boris Johnson warned that Europe was “addicted” to Russian oil and gas, it has emerged that a report commissioned by a UK regulator described some of the tremors used to justify the moratorium on shale gas exploration in Britain as “almost imperceptible”.
The larger tremors cited by ministers when they announced the ban in 2019 affected just tens of buildings with, at the most, “slight non-structural damage“, according to a report commissioned by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) and finalised after the moratorium was put in place.
The disclosure comes after the Prime Minister acknowledged that there was “merit” in the idea of the temporary “use of hydrocarbons in this country” after MPs pressed him to “look again at fracking”. Sources insisted that he had not changed his mind on the issue, having pushed back against a suggestion by Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit opportunities minister, that the ban should be reversed.
The 2019 moratorium was announced by Andrea Leadsom, then business secretary, in November of that year “on the basis of the disturbance caused to residents living near Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site in Lancashire” and the “latest scientific analysis” for the OGA.
But several other reports, published months later without fanfare on the OGA’s website, prompted calls last night for the decision to be reversed.
On Saturday night, Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister, said: “There’s a war on which appears to be possible only because Europe is, as the PM said, addicted to Russian gas. While Putin bears responsibility for the ultimate war crime of initiating a war of aggression, everyone who allowed our shale gas to remain in the ground on a false pretence should hang their heads in shame as the Ukrainian people fight and die for their country.
“Boris should immediately stop the concreting in of current shale wells and go for gas with all the vigour of a national war effort, which this very nearly is.
“Our civilisation may depend upon it.”
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