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Fracking could help with energy crisis

The government has hinted that it has not yet closed the door to fracking - the controversial method used to to extract shale gas.

The energy minister Greg Hands told MPs the government's position on fracking had not changed but that it could be an important part of the energy supplies to the UK.

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay

He said: "In response to Putin’s barbaric acts in Ukraine and against the Ukrainian people, we need to keep all of our energy options open. We’ve always been clear that the development of shale gas in the UK must be safe and cause minimal disruption and damage to those living and working nearby sites.

"This is not a new position. Shale gas and new approaches could be part of our future energy mix, but we need to be led by the science and have the support of local communities. And that was in our general election manifesto.

"The pause on fracking implemented in November 2019 on the basis of the difficulty in predicting and managing seismic activity caused by fracking, remains in place and we will continue to be led by the science on our approach."

His comments were described as unnecessary and unhelpful by Green campaigners.

Tonbridge and Malling green county councillor Mark Hood said:“The crisis in Ukraine is being used by some people as a convenient excuse to get fracking back on the agenda. We all know we need to keep fossil fuel in the ground as much as we can and we need to make a transition to renewables so we can enjoy the energy security that this whole crisis has exposed.

Tonbridge councillor Mark Hood is opposed to fracking taking place in the UK

"The idea that we are going to start fracking in the UK is a nonsense.”

He said the process involved in fracking had potentially far-reaching repercussions such as damage to local aquifers, which helped maintain existing water supplies.

There were no new grounds for lifting the moratorium the government imposed in 2019, he added. At that time, the block on fracking led companies who had expressed an interest in in exploratory work in East Kent to abandon their plans.

Cllr Hood said the evidence did not support a resumption of exploratory wells and where gas was being found and extracted in America, it was in areas of relatively small populations.


The South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay, a supporter of fracking, said the government should not turn away from the possible resumption of exploratory wells.

He said:“We have had a very flawed and muddled energy policy; we have not known where we are going for 20 years.

"Gas is in very short supply and it is going to be part of a energy mix for a very long time. My argument is that we have got lots of it in the UK and mother nature blessed us with it. So, why aren’t we using it?”

Asked about the general opposition to companies carrying out exploratory drilling, he said residents living in these areas could be offered free or discounted gas supplies.

“The drilling phase does give rise to some of the concerns we have heard about, but I find it hard to believe that there aren't some sites that are fairly remote and away from its populations that should certainly be looked at.”

There was a case for giving local authorities and residents a dividend from any fracking.

"Why not offer people within a certain distance from the shale wells free gas? These shouldn't be forced on anyone but if the price is right and the dividend to the community is a good one I think you might find that we are in a different place.”

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