The British government has made a major U-turn and imposed a moratorium on fracking, following a damning new scientific study that found that it causes unpredictable earth tremors.
The new report, published on Saturday by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), warned the technique had a dangerously high risk of causing disruption to local communities through earth tremors of unpredictably high magnitude. The government responded by announcing it would therefore issue a complete ban on the procedure. The moratorium will stay in place until new evidence shows the shale gas extraction process is safe, the government said.
Sky news reports: Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had “very considerable anxieties” about fracking, which is a controversial method of extracting shale gas.
The government has withdrawn support and said it will block further proposals to change the planning process for fracking sites.
It has previously supported shale gas exploration and fracking, which it considered a means to produce a domestic, low-carbon fuel alternative.
It also marks a sharp U-turn for Mr Johnson, who once hailed fracking as “glorious news for humanity” and said energy companies “should leave no stone unturned, or unfracked
Fracking had been expected to feature prominently in the campaign for the 12 December general election.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has branded the stoppage “an election stunt to try and win a few votes”.
The moratorium comes after a report by the Oil and Gas Authority found it is not currently possible to accurately predict the likelihood of strength of earthquakes linked to fracking operations.
There have been a series of seismic tremors at a fracking site in Lancashire this year, including a 2.1-magnitude tremor at Cuadrilla’s site near Blackpool in August – days after a 1.55-magnitude movement.
There have been regular protests at the Lancashire site.
The government’s moratorium will remain in place until compelling new evidence shows it is safe.
Andrea Leadsom, minister for business, energy and industrial strategy, said the government had been advised that the size and frequency of seismic tremors could not be predicted using existing scientific tools.
She said: “We can no longer be certain of the safety of shale gas exploration, and we always want to be led by the science. Therefore we’ve decided that we cannot take this further at the time being.”