That fracking ban is back

Barry White

In a reversal of policy announced by former prime minister Truss (which itself was a reversal of policy) fracking will in effect remain banned under Rishi Sunak’s government, his spokesperson confirmed this yesterday, saying the new prime minister was committed to the policy in the 2019 manifesto. Earlier at prime minister’s question time Rishi Sunak told the Commons that he stood by the manifesto, which put a moratorium on shale gas extraction.

The Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto commitment said the ban would be in place until there was new scientific evidence about the safety of fracking. It reads: “We placed a moratorium on fracking in England with immediate effect. Having listened to local communities, we have ruled out changes to the planning system. We will not support fracking unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely.”

The decision was welcomed by the countryside charity the CPRE. Campaigns Officer Mark Robinson said: “This is a truly important win for all of us. We’ve shown that over a decade on, fracking is still as politically toxic as it always has been, and always will be. After the massive public campaign against the return of fracking, it’s hard to imagine any government trying to impose this form of drilling on our communities and landscapes in the future.

Last week saw a ‘confused’ House of Commons vote on the future of fracking which descended into chaos after more than 40 Conservative MPs failed to back Liz Truss’s government, with press reports that MPs alleged ministers physically pulled some wavering Tories into the voting lobbies. Although it was billed as a vote of confidence in the government, this was denied shortly before the vote was taken. In less than a week the government had fallen and the decision reversed!

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