The ban on fracking in England has recently been removed by new Prime Minister Liz Truss, who claims that fracking could ‘get gas flowing in as soon as six months’. But while fracking companies pushing for licences are claiming that they can extract gas in a matter of months, the Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, acknowledged earlier this year that it could take up to a decade for shale gas to make a sufficient contribution to domestic supply in the UK. Even then, as he acknowledged, this gas would be sold to international markets and would not bring down local prices. “Additional UK production won’t materially affect the wholesale market price. This includes fracking – UK producers won’t sell shale gas to UK consumers below the market price. They’re not charities.”

Ban on fracking

Until recently, there has been little written about fracking since it was banned in England in November 2019, following widespread concern over minor earthquakes at a test site in Lancashire. The Scottish and Welsh governments have had a policy of opposing fracking since 2015 and there have also been moves to ban it in Northern Ireland. However, now that the government is under pressure to deal with the energy crisis, fracking is being held up as part of the solution in certain circles, even though there is little hard evidence to show that it would deliver sufficient quantities or lower prices, and it certainly wouldn’t take us any closer to our net zero goals.

Will fracking even happen?

The current noise around fracking may well be a red herring as Liz Truss has told Parliament that it will depend on “local support”. The most recent government polling finds that just 17% of people support fracking, which begs the question, will any of these projects even get off the ground – especially when the only people who stand to profit are the fracking companies themselves? Jacob Rees-Mogg has also indicated that the Government will consider raising the limit on the size of tremors that are allowed to take place at drilling sites – this is likely to inspire even less public confidence in this controversial technique of extracting gas, which involves pumping large volumes of high pressure water into rock deep underground.

The danger, of course, is that inaccurate claims made on behalf of fracking are a distraction, when now is the time to be taking swift and decisive action to ramp up renewables projects – renewables which will produce affordable, reliable and secure local energy, helping to solve the energy crisis and taking us further towards net zero.

“It’s just impractical to think that fracking can solve the energy crisis and frustrating that it is back on the table. We need the UK and devolved governments to focus on the renewable energy pipeline. The recent relaxation of planning rules around onshore wind in England is a good start, but we still need to address grid capacity issues, incentivise developers and communities, and plough more money into energy storage technology so that we can truly harness the immense potential of renewable energy. There was already some great work being done before the crisis but the need for speed is now paramount and we need to focus on areas that are going to deliver now and into the future.”
Ruth Chapman, Managing Director, commented: