The General Election of 12 December 2019 returned a Conservative Government, led by Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, with a large Parliamentary majority. Immediately before the Election – on 2 November 2019 – the Tory Government announced a Moratorium on fracking in the UK “unless and until further evidence is provided that it can be carried out safely here”. The Moratorium was announced in a Press Release headed “Government ends support for fracking”.
However, we at EAF are acutely aware that a Moratorium is only a temporary halt to fracking, and it does not have the same effect as an outright ban on the practice.
EAF note with some concern that the Queen’s Speech of the 19th December 2019 made no reference to fracking, nor to any future energy plans for the UK. We also consider that the 2050 target for attaining zero net carbon emissions is unacceptable in light of recent and ongoing reports regarding the critical effects of climate change and global warming.
Many of our members have expressed concerns that the timing of the Moratorium might suggest that it was little more than an electoral ploy, a vote-winning inducement which might be dropped by the Conservatives once the election was won. That remains to be seen.
From our very inception EAF has always campaigned vigorously for a total ban on fracking throughout the UK and our position in this respect has not changed. We will continue to fight for an outright ban not only on fracking but also on any other similar oil and gas extraction processes such as acidisation.
Lee Rowley was first elected as our local MP for North East Derbyshire in 2017 and in the 2 years since then he has fought tirelessly to change “hearts and minds” in Westminster and to build opposition to fracking amongst Conservative MPs. He has chaired an All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Impact of Shale Gas Extraction and has led and participated in Westminster Hall debates on the subject. He has also tabled numerous Written Questions on fracking and associated matters to the relevant Ministers. However, he has not yet expressed support for a total ban on fracking.
Whereas we at EAF are grateful to Mr Rowley for his support in our fight against unconventional hydraulic fracturing, we will continue to stress that we require nothing less than a complete ban on fracking and all other similar and associated practices; and we will continue to press him to ensure that the new Government does not back-track on the Moratorium in the face of renewed pressure which will almost undoubtedly come from an emboldened oil and gas industry following the Election result. We will also press him to seek reassurances that the Government will not relax the current regulatory processes (including the “traffic light” system) and will not resurrect the 2018 proposals regarding identifying fracking as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects and the inclusion of exploratory drilling as Permitted Development for planning purposes.
We will be asking Mr Rowley to continue his work with his All-Party Parliamentary Group and to seek opposition to fracking amongst the new intake of Conservative MPs, particularly in view of the fact that many of them are now representing communities across the Midlands and the North of England which are particularly under threat of fracking. We will also seek to continue having regular meetings with Mr Rowley to discuss progress and any urgent matters which may arise.
The fight goes on, and we will not rest until we achieve our aim of a total, permanent and irreversible ban on fracking and associated oil and gas extraction processes throughout the UK.