Business Secretary: Fracking Suspension Is "Very Disappointing"

2 November 2019, 11:58

Andrea Leadsom told Andrew Castle that the Government's moratorium on fracking is "very disappointing" - but they have to put safety first.

She said: "What we're announcing today is a moratorium, which is not the same as a ban, I mean there's no doubt shale gas has huge potential in the UK.

"But we've always said we'll be led by the science and the oil and gas authority has made clear that the seismic activity that we saw in Preston New Road recently where there was shale gas being explored for, was unpredictable and unexpected

And we can't guarantee that it wouldn't be even worse than that. therefore, on that basis, we are following the science and we have no choice but to impose this moratorium with immediate effect."

Andrew Castle asked: "So this is just to gain the green vote, isn't it, during an election period?"

Leadsom said: "The oil and gas authorities' study has been ongoing for the last few months, since the seismic activity at Preston New Road. They reported to me a few days ago.

What I'm trying to do is to give businesses and communities certainty as soon as I can and so that's why I'm making this announcement now."

He then asked how long the moratorium will be for.

Business Secretary: Fracking Suspension Is "Very Disappointing"
Business Secretary: Fracking Suspension Is "Very Disappointing". Picture: PA

She replied: "Well, until the science can make clear what the seismic activity is likely to be with a much greater degree of certainty.

"So we will always put safety first, we were always clear about that.

"We would only support shale gas as long as it can be extracted safely.

"The industry itself understands that that particular seismic event that we're talking about here was unexpected, and they are also very keen to see safety first and that's why we've had the tightest regulation at possible for this new system, but it hasn't taken off yet.

"It's an opportunity cost.

We will still continue to need to use gas into the next decades as we decarbonize our system, and we will be able to import it from overseas, but it's very disappointing."

Andrew asked if fracking is dangerous.

Leadsom said: "No, not in and of itself, but absolutely key to it because of the technique where you're effectively injecting water and chemicals deep underground.

"It is the seismic activity that is the area that we need to closely regulate and we need that certainty. So as the science improves, we will be able to look at this again but that's not for now.

And the idea of a moratorium is to remove any uncertainty and to make clear to businesses that we won't be bringing forward and approving any further consent."

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