Government ban fracking but Nottinghamshire ‘threat remains’ say residents.

Campaigners in Nottinghamshire say they welcome the new Prime Minister’s re-instatement of a ban on fracking – but say the threat has not gone away.


The Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto pledged to ban it – before former Prime Minister Liz Truss’ government U-turned on the commitment once she came to power last month. But  Rishi Sunak restored the ban on fracking during his first Prime Minister’s Questions. He said he would “stand by the manifesto” in 2019 which put a moratorium on shale gas extraction – until there was new scientific evidence about the technique.The Misson Springs site, in Bassetlaw, was subject to shale gas tests until 2019 after Nottinghamshire County Council approved plans in 2016. In 2019 “exploration work” was completed at the site, and applicants Island Gas Ltd (IGAS) said it had found a “world-class gas resource”.

But former Misson resident Sheelagh Handy, said the threat of fracking in Misson remains. She called for the site to be restored to its former state. She said: “It is a pause, not a ban. We are very aware as a community that the threat could return any moment. The fact is that iGas should have restored the site a long while ago. It is an uncertain time because we have been here before and on a pinhead, everything changed again. We welcome what was said by Sunak but we actually want action, we want the site restored.”

“We want a ban on fracking nationally.”

“The prospect of fracking still hangs over us, it hasn’t gone away.

Erin McDaid, Head of Communications & Marketing at Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, said “It will hopefully mean we can get the experimental drilling site at Misson springs capped and restored. “Nationally the picture is still very scary. This is welcome but it’s only a crumb of comfort.”

 July 2021

Nottinghamshire fracking plans  were refused and site must be restored to natural  condition.

IGas submitted plans to extend the site’s use and delay restoration works until November 2023, hoping for a reversal of the Government moratorium.

The application was recommended for approval by council officials. But Nottinghamshire County Council’s planning and rights of way committee opted to refuse the application, ordering the site to be restored.

This meant the applicant must  restore the Springs Road land to its former condition.


Why fracking is headlining in British politics

“This is not a motion on fracking. This is a confidence motion in the government,” said the Conservative deputy chief whip, Craig Whittaker, in a message to MPs. His job was to convince all the Tories to vote in favour of the Conservative government, meaning against the motion.

As a result, the vote came to signify not just the country’s future in fracking, but also the Tories’ confidence in, and loyalty to, their own leadership. Fracking itself was less of an issue than the fact that several senior members of the Conservative Party were about to go against the prime minister.

In the end, 40 Conservatives abstained, which was in effect a vote against Truss, and the vote itself was a spectacle. “I saw a whole swathe of MPs effectively pushing one member straight through the door,” Labour MP Chris Bryant told the BBC,” adding that what he saw was “clear bullying.” Because the voting booths are outside the house chamber, members of government must leave the room in order to vote. Those being pushed were likely hoping to abstain.

The controversy shook the party to its core. Several MPs, who were now extremely worried that they no longer had party unity, called for Truss to step down the next day in an effort to restore some sense of order. The country’s third prime minister of the year, Rishi Sunak, was elected unopposed on Monday.

Continue reading Why fracking is headlining in British politics

More on the Fracking Vote chaos.


A former party whip at Westminster said he had never seen anything like the chaos before the vote that finally cracked the government. Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael, who was first elected in 2001, was tasked with ensuring colleagues voted with the Conservatives when he was Lib Dem chief whip and deputy chief whip for Tory PM David Cameron’s coalition government.

He still speaks regularly to Tory MPs and said their mood was despondent after a tumultuous week that culminated in the resignation of Prime Minister Liz Truss the morning after the Tories plunged into chaos before a vote on a Labour motion on fracking. Labour MP Chris Bryant claimed some were manhandled through the voting lobby by senior Tories.

Alistair Carmichael

Carmichael, who witnessed the commotion, said: “I’ve never seen anything like that before. Politics is important and the decisions you make as an MP matter. If people get hot under the collar about it, that’s not always a bad thing. But that is country miles from what we were seeing last week.

“The mood in the Conservative Party is despondent. It is rudderless. It is a failure of political leadership that has brought us to this point. Not just from Liz Truss. This government and Boris Johnson’s government before it is populated by people who have a colossal sense of entitlement.

It was their arrogance and hubris that made them think they could bend the markets to their will. As a consequence they may have done permanent and irreparable damage to the British economy.”

In last week’s chaotic Commons vote on fracking, more than 30 Tory MPs refused to back the Government’s decision to lift the ban on shale gas exploration.

However, among the ministers supporting the Government was new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who clearly approves of fracking . . . unless, it seems, it’s in his South-West Surrey constituency.

In June, he sent a sternly worded letter to Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove objecting to a proposal by UK Oil & Gas (UKOG) to explore a site for gas in his constituency. The plan was rejected by local councillors but given the go-ahead on appeal by Gove’s department. 

‘I protest in the strongest of terms against your decision to grant the appeal that will allow drilling and exploration of fossil fuel,’ wrote Hunt. ‘The proposals to carry out such activity have been decisively rejected by Surrey County Council and the entire local community. I can’t see how this site has any role to play in our future energy supply needs.’

‘Nimby Hunt’ was widely mocked on social media following last week’s vote, including the following on a local blog: ‘FRACK!! I am now the Chancellor so sod the Stop The UKOG brigade protesting against oil/gas exploration on my patch.’

Still in Surrey, Farnham town councillors debated last week whether to send a congratulatory message to the newly-appointed Chancellor — but thought better of it. ‘He might not be there very long,’ mused one. Indeed not!

Madsen Pirie, president of the Thatcherite Adam Smith Institute, is not impressed by the bleatings of some of former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s more stentorian critics. ‘We have indeed entered strange territory when a notionally Conservative MP, Robert Halfon, describes those who favour tax cuts as “libertarian jihadists”. They used to be called Conservatives.’ Let’s face it, he has a point!


Overheard in the Commons. One Tory MP to another: ‘How long before the Queen’s record of 15 prime ministers is beaten by Charles III?’ 


Unheard of happenings in the Commons Today

Fracking vote result

On the motion: Should time be made for MPs to debate a fracking ban?

MPs have voted 230 for yes, 326 for no.

The government wins the vote.

Comments from MPs

Labour MP Chris Bryant said cabinet ministers Thérèse Coffey and Jacob Rees-Mogg were among a group of senior Tories who were putting pressure on Conservative MPs to vote against the Labour motion on fracking.

Rees-Mogg has denied this, telling Sky News there was “no action that I saw” in regards to any wrongful behaviour.

Asked if what he saw was bullying, he said: “From what I saw, no.”

Labour MP Chris Bryant said Alexander Stafford, the Conservative MP for Rother Valley was “manhandled” and “bullied” in the voting lobby.

Bryant told Sky News: “There was a bunch of Conservative members who were completely uncertain about whether they were allowed to vote with the Labour motion because of what had been said in the chamber about whether it’s a free vote or a confidence vote.

“There was a group – including several cabinet ministers – who were basically shouting at them. At least one member was physically pulled through the door into the voting lobby.”

Commons veteran Chris Bryant says he saw members being “physically manhandled” and bullied into a voting lobby and calls for an investigation into what happened. Says this goes against behaviour code of MPs

Ian Murray MP said I’ve never seen scenes like it at the entrance to a voting lobby. Tories on open warfare. Jostling and Rees Mogg shouting at his colleagues. Whips screaming at Tories. They are done and should call a general election. Two Tory whips dragging people in. Shocking.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP said  Just seen Tory whips manhandling a crying Tory MP into their lobby for fracking. You couldn’t make this toxic stuff up, nasty to see the Tories at work, if this is how they treat their MPs spare a thought for the country.

Massive Tory row going on in the lobby, literally trying to force people through. Lots of anger. Jess Phillips MP

A Conservative MP said the government frontbench should “hang their heads in shame” as she said the leadership had “severely tested” Tory MPs’ trust.

Ruth Edwards, the Conservative MP for Rushcliffe, did not say she would vote against the government, saying: “I don’t support fracking, but I am even less keen on the idea of letting the Labour party play at being in government for the day.” She told MPs: “My final observation tonight is for our own frontbench. For they have enabled the opposition to force colleagues to choose between voting against our manifesto and voting to lose the whip.

“They should take a look at the faces of colleagues behind them, colleagues who have fracking sites in their constituencies, and they should hang their heads in shame.

“A Conservative government will always have my confidence, but its leadership today has severely tested my trust and the trust of many colleagues and I would advise them not to do so again.”

The backbencher Sir Charles Walker told BBC News the following:

As a Tory MP for 17 years, who’s never been a minister, who’s got on with it loyally most of the time, I think it’s a shambles and a disgrace. I think it is utterly appalling.

I’m livid and, you know, I really shouldn’t say this but I hope all those people that put Liz Truss in No. 10 – I hope it was worth it. I hope it was worth it for the ministerial red box. I hope it was worth it to sit around the cabinet table, because the damage they have done to our party is extraordinary.

I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough of talentless people putting their tick in the right box, not because it’s in the national interest, but because it’s in their own personal interest to achieve a ministerial position.





Resource Potential

A total of 14 wells have been drilled to explore for shale gas in the UK, with only three wells being fracked to date. Currently, there are no proven shale gas reserves due to the lack of wells drilled and tested,

Whitelaw et al. (2019) and Lodhia et al. (2022) calculated GIIP (gas initially in place} of 140 Tcf and 131 Tcf respectively which is ten times lower than what the BGS derived but still a significant resource. The research was based on UK shale data and took into consideration the geological complexity in comparison to the BGS study which focussed on US analogues.

Impact on UK Gas Prices

Reversing the moratorium will not provide a quick fix to reducing UK gas prices because UK gas is traded on an international market where prices are set in relation to global supply and demand. If the resource potential of shale gas is proved, gas storage facilities could be required if production exceeds demand. The UK has some of the lowest storage capacity in comparison to other major European countries. Therefore, the gas could be exported rather than used domestically until capacity issues are addressed.


The diverse nature of the UK’s geology will pose significant challenges for fracking operations. Basins in the north of England have been subject to a complex geological history resulting in highly faulted and compartmentalised basins, which has reduced the economic potential of the shale gas. Thousands of wells would be required to be drilled to ensure commerciality over areas with high population densities, which would increase the cost and time to produce shale gas in the UK.

Energy Security

Shale gas provides an opportunity for the UK to significantly increase energy security by increasing domestic gas production and reduce reliance on imports in the medium to long term. This could provide the UK with more bargaining power when negotiating long-term gas supply contracts. However, shale gas will not provide an immediate solution to energy security due to the time it will take to drill the number of wells required to produce commercial quantities, coupled with the requirement of drilling rigs with specialist equipment and highly skilled fracking crews which are not currently available in the UK. Finally, local support and planning permission are key to commencing operations and this remains an enormous hurdle for the industry.

Environmental Impacts

Shale gas production could reduce the reliance on imports which have a higher associated carbon footprint. The North Sea Transition Authority reported that domestic production has less than half the emission intensity of imported LNG. Gas is the cleanest fossil fuel and will play a significant part in the UK reaching carbon neutrality. Shale gas could be used as a bridging fuel through replacing coal and oil to produce energy until renewable and nuclear capacity increases.

However, the process of fracking is fiercely opposed by environmentalists especially following the induced seismicity from hydraulic fracturing at the Preston New Road wellsite in 2018 and 2019. Another environmental concern is the risk that fracking poses to groundwater contamination. However, the depth of shale in the UK is often much deeper than the aquifers and unlikely to pose a major risk. Large supplies of water are required for fracking operations and the method and rate of extraction could impact local water supplies. Other impacts to local communities include increased traffic and damage to the natural environment and noise and air pollution.

Based on the aforementioned points, the lifting of the moratorium on fracking could lead to an increase in domestic production, however the understanding of the environmental impacts and gaining societal acceptance must be addressed before shale gas can positively contribute to the UK’s energy security.



Sir David King, head of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, who was chief scientific adviser to the government between 2000 and 2007.said:
The drive for more oil and gas production was “completely at odds” with the UK’s legally binding net-zero target.
Furthermore, it would bring large quantities of greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels to the market directly ahead of the 2050 deadline for reaching zero.
He said the plans, announced  by the prime minister’s new energy secretary, Jacob-Rees Mogg, were “extremely alarming”.
“We’re looking at a situation where the crisis is with us here to but we don’t recognise that when we say ‘let’s go ahead and start new fracking operations in this country’.
“It beggars belief. What it seems to show is that the leadership in the government does not understand the nature of the climate crisis.”
Tessa Khan the director of the climate group Uplift and co-founder of Warm This Winter, a coalition of charities such as Oxfam and Save the Children and fuel poverty and climate activist groups, which is demanding the government do more to address the cost of living crisis.
She said the government’s apparent intention to double down on oil and gas exploration and push ahead with fracking was “both a challenge and real opportunity” for the climate movement.
“There is so much at stake for people in terms of their spiralling energy bills that it is going to be hard for the government to get away with plans that are obviously not going to address the fundamental cause of the problem and which simply lock us in to the same bust system. This can no longer be dismissed as a campaign about a future abstract threat, it is about the material reality of people’s everyday lives.”
James Hansen who is known as the father of climate science and one of the world’s leading climate scientists has launched a scathing attack on the government’s fracking programme, accusing ministers of aping Donald Trump and ignoring scientific evidence.
He warned that future generations would judge the decision to back a UK fracking industry harshly.
“So the UK joins Trump, ignores science… full throttle ahead with the worst fossil fuels,” Hansen told the Observer. “The science is crystal clear, we need to phase out fossil fuels starting with the most damaging, the ‘unconventional’ fossil fuels such as tar sands and ‘fracking’.””

Fracking in the UK

The UK contains shale formations bearing oil in the south and gas in the north. The Bowland Shale in the north of England is thought to contain about 1,300 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas. 

However, only a small proportion of gas in the Bowland can be extracted –perhaps only about 4%. Compared with North America, the shale geology of the UK is considerably more complex, faults are numerous, and drilling costs are substantially higher..

Despite this, proponents of UK fracking said that it could duplicate the US experience and lead to a cheap energy boom. The Conservative Government led by David Cameron called for the UK to go ‘all out’ for shale, removing the final say over whether projects could go ahead from local councils.

Fracking in Louisiana
America has experienced a cheap energy boom thanks to shale gas. Image: Creative Commons Licence, Daniel Foster

Fracking not economically viable

The Institute of Directors calculates that the UK shale industry could support 74,000 jobs, but this is not independently corroborated.

Exploratory drilling in Lancashire, by Cuadrilla, was halted in 2011 after fracking caused two earth tremors. Surveys in Balcombe, Sussex were also carried out by Cuadrilla, opposed by local and environmental protesters, although plans to frack were dropped.

A turning point came in April 2016 when North Yorkshire council approved Third Energy’s proposal to frack an existing well in Kirby Misperton, despite objections from the majority of the local population. However, long-running questions over the viability of a British fracking industry, as well as high levels of public opposition saw a moratorium placed on the technique during the 2019 election campaign, effectively killing the industry. A string of earthquakes at fracking sites appear to have been the final straws for ministers.

A report by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) concluded that shale gas would not reduce energy prices or reduce the UK’s reliance on gas imports. It also pointed to the highly interconnected nature of European gas markets as a reason why fracking would not deliver cheaper fuel prices.


Continue reading Fracking in the UK