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Fracking ban should be reviewed in light of energy crisis says South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay

A Kent MP has called on the government to review a ban on fracking for shale gas, saying it could play a part in easing the energy crisis and bring down fuel bills.

South Thanet's Craig Mackinlay said the UK’s reliance on supplies of gas from Russia was “crackpot” and other avenues should be explored.

Green Kent County Councillor Mark Hood slams plans to increase fracking

“No matter what our movement is towards Net Zero, whether it is fast or slow – and slower would be my preference – we're going to be using fossil fuels for some time.”

He said relying on other countries such as Russia for energy supplies when there were adequate reserves for the UK to be energy secure “seems to be absolute greenwash lunacy”.

Fracking is a process of extracting oil or gas which involves injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks, which many argue can cause soil pollution or cause earthquakes.

But Mr Mackinlay said it was a mystery why the government had pulled exploratory fracking trials in 2019..

When there was enough gas supplies for potentially 50 years it was “incomprehensible” that the UK should be relying on a foreign government, he added.

Craig Mackinlay MP
Craig Mackinlay MP

“There's the issue of spending your own foreign currency, creating a balance of payments problem when you could be doing this domestically. It just makes no sense whatsoever.”

The prospect of Russia supplying gas to other countries surfaced last week when President Putin stated it could make more gas available.

He said that rapidly growing demand amid the global economic recovery from the pandemic had driven Europe’s rising gas prices.

Mr Mackinlay said he accepted that the axing of a £20 uplift to Universal Credit would make it harder for families struggling with rocketing energy bills.

“I can see it's going to be tough. It's going to be tough for very many people, and you know I don't want to see that. Especially because there was a solution.

“The idea that we could frack ourselves out of trouble is ludicrous."

"Even if we were to start fracking and do other sensible things on energy policy, these things wouldn't come on stream immediately, they will take some years to roll out.”

In November 2019, the government announced "an indefinite suspension" to fracking.

A report by the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) said it was not possible to predict the probability or size of tremors caused by the practice.

Andrea Leadsom, who was Business Secretary, said at the time the suspension might be temporary – imposed "until and unless" extraction was proved safe.

There were vigorous protests against fracking in east Kent, where campaigners fought off attempts by Coastal Oil and Gas, which sought permission from KCC for drilling licences at Shepherdswell, Tilmanstone and Guston in east Kent.

The permission to carry out exploration of the sites has effectively lapsed.

Green county councillor Mark Hood said: “The idea that we could frack ourselves out of trouble is ludicrous. We don't need it in Kent, where we need the aquifers to supply our drinking water and which fracking could pollute.

“If we really want to transition to a situation where we have fuel stability and security, we need to be investing in renewables, we need to get going again on onshore wind and solar energy – these are cutting the need in the first instance.

"If we had met the government’s commitment to have carbon-free housing, we would not need the energy to heat our homes."

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