A Conservative-led council in Lancashire, which represents the area with the only two shale gas wells in Britain, has voted unanimously for the government to stick to its 2019 fracking ban commitments and clarify how local consent will be gained.
The moratorium on fracking was put in place in November 2019 by Boris Johnson’s government after multiple earth tremors were experienced in Lancashire near the active fracking site in Preston New Road. The greatest tremor at the site, which triggered the ban, had a recorded magnitude of 2.9 on the Richter scale.
In its 2019 election manifesto, the Conservative Party said it would not support fracking “unless the science shows categorically that it can be done safely”. However, the moratorium on shale gas production, or hydraulic fracturing, was formally lifted on 22 September this year, after being mooted by Truss in her first speech to the commons as prime minister.
According to the Guardian, the leader of Fylde Council, Karen Buckley, introduced an amended motion on Wednesday night that called on the government to “set out how local consent will be ascertained” in the case of fracking and to “demonstrate the manifesto commitment of 2019”. All 40 councillors who attended the meeting voted for the motion.
Speaking at the debate before the motion was tabled, councillor Paul Hayhurst dismissed an idea that the government could try to buy residents’ support with one-off payments, according to the Guardian, and claimed proximity to a fracking site “blights” house prices.
He said that giving locals a lump sum of £1,000 to have fracking in their area, as has been proposed, “would really be like turkeys voting for Christmas” and said that “it will cost you £50,000 when you try to sell your houses”, the newspaper wrote.
Another councillor, Matthew Lee, was reported to have said that he conducted an online survey last week to canvas residents’ views and got “many hundreds of responses which found that 85% of locals are against fracking”.
Reader in geochemistry at the University of Edinburgh, Dr Stuart Gilfillan, and petroleum geologist Professor Richard Davies, told ENDS that the science on fracking has not changed since 2019. Both referenced the British Geological Survey’s (BGS) peer-reviewed report which concluded that predicting both the occurrence and size of large earthquakes remains a “scientific challenge”.