Ministers have always been clear that fracking should only proceed if the science shows that it is safe, sustainable and minimises disturbances to local communities. Therefore, I welcome the Government’s decision to halt fracking considering the latest evidence.
A report in 2019 from the Oil & Gas Authority, the independent regulator, found that it was not possible to accurately predict the probability or magnitude of earthquakes linked to fracking. As a result, the Government immediately announced a moratorium for no more fracking to take place in England. You will be reassured to know that this position will be maintained unless compelling new evidence is provided which addresses the concerns around the prediction and management of induced seismicity.
The wholesale price of gas and energy has increased in the UK and Europe due to various factors, including an increase in demand following the end of lockdowns in various countries and in return economies reopening. In light of Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine and high global gas prices hiking up bills, the Prime Minister has been clear that it’s right we move away from dependence on Russian gas and increase our self-reliance in our energy security.
The Government is considering all options and it has always been clear that it will take a precautionary approach and will be open to shale gas exploration if it can be done in a safe and sustainable way. I also welcome that the Prime Minister will announce an Energy Supply Strategy in due course which will address how the Government will meet the needs of the UK in the short, medium and long term.
You may be interested to know that renewable energy is cheaper than gas and therefore the long term solution is to move away from it. I welcome that the UK renewable capacity is up 500 per cent since 2010. However, the Government recognises that more must be done. That is why it is accelerating renewables with annual Contract for Difference auctions. I want to be clear that the more cheap, clean power we generate in the UK, the less exposed we will be to global gas markets.